BEIRUT: At least four Lebanese have taken their own lives in the past week.
The Lebanese do not support the economic and social conditions that weigh on the country. An example is Diab Audi, a retired Internal Security Forces warrant officer who died of a heart attack on the premises of a bank. He could not withdraw the money he had saved.
Indeed, Lebanon is suffering from an overwhelming economic crisis which, according to the United Nations, has plunged more than 80% of its population into poverty.
Information International, a Beirut-based consultancy, has just released a study showing a significant increase in recorded suicides. Those numbers had fallen by 2022.
Between 2013 and 2022, an average of one hundred and forty-three suicides were recorded each year. In 2019, that number reached its highest level (one hundred and seventy-two). Preliminary research shows that unfavorable economic and social conditions are behind the suicides recorded in the past week.
Mohammed Ibrahim was found dead on Sunday after apparently taking his own life with a gun in his hometown of Wardaniyeh. He worked at the Judges’ Mutual Fund at the Sidon Palace of Justice and was the nephew of the Treasury Attorney Judge Ali Ibrahim.
The day before, Hussein al-Abed Mroueh, 40, was found dead in one of the orchards surrounding his home in Zararia, southern Lebanon. According to people close to him, he had “always suffered from economic and financial difficulties and was not active in a specific field”.
Moussa al-Shami lived in Jarjouaa village. He too committed suicide. He left a recorded message to a friend, which circulated on social media. Moussa asked his friend to take care of his children. Moussa al-Shami complains about the unbearable burden and his precarious economic situation. He said he could no longer afford to feed his children.
In late February, a 30-year-old man strangled his wife and four-year-old child in the Daraya region of Mount Lebanon governorate. He then committed suicide. According to the information gathered, he was unable to pay his debts.
Embrace Lebanon is a Lebanese non-governmental organization (NGO) that offers psychological help. It defines suicide as a phenomenon combining psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors. This NGO attributes suicide to crisis, disaster, violence, abuse, chronic pain, illness or loss, and the victim’s sense of isolation.
According to this NGO, suicide is very common among vulnerable groups who suffer discrimination. It identifies previous suicide attempts as the main risk factor associated with suicide.
The Central Administration of Statistics and the International Labor Organization (ILO) conducted a survey in 2022. This shows that the collapse of the national currency and the state’s inability to carry out the reforms demanded by the international community have reduced the percentage of families receiving pensions and other social benefits from 28% to 10%.
According to the survey, 85% of families cannot survive even a month without sources of income.
General Confederation of Lebanese Workers (CGTL) President Bechara al-Asmar spoke with Interim Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Monday.
At the end of the meeting, Mr. Al-Asmar said: “The state is trying to secure the income. But this must not happen at the expense of 90% of the population.”
“Taxes and fees need to be reduced at this difficult time. However, the state has decided to increase taxes and tariffs. He also increased the exchange rate to 70,000 Lebanese pounds for 1 dollar (1 dollar = 0.94 euros) on the central bank’s (Sayrafa) platform. As a result, workers’ incomes lost an average of 56% of their value. These decisions should have been reviewed before they were implemented.”
Bechara al-Asmar goes on to specify that “Retired soldiers and civilians are all poor now. Public sector employees are paid at the old exchange rate, ie 1,500 Lebanese pounds for 1 dollar.
“Ever since the government allowed traders to convert prices into dollars, there have been significant irregularities in commodity prices. Chaos threatens to plague markets as Ramadan approaches.”
This text is a translation of an article published on Arabnews.com.