Almost 250 children attempted suicide or died in northwest Syria in the final quarter of 2020

Suicide attempts and deaths from self-harm increased “dramatically” to girls in 2020 in northwest Syria, the site of fighting between troops loyal to the Bashar al Assad regime and rebel forces only in the third quarter of last year.

Suicides increased by 86 percent between October and December, and of those who attempted to commit suicide, at least 42 are 15 years or younger and 18 percent are between 16 and 20 years old. Save the Children learned of a new case last week: a 14-year-old boy who committed suicide in a displaced person’s camp in Hama.

The NGO attributes the upswing to the steady deterioration in living conditions in northwest Syria after more than ten years of war. Most of the recorded suicide deaths, especially 187, occurred in people who had been evicted from their homes.

Almost 250 children attempted suicide or died in northwest Syria in the final quarter of 2020
Almost 250 children attempted suicide or died in northwest Syria in the final quarter of 2020

Majd, a member of the mental health department at Hurras Network, warns that “nearly 15 percent of adult patients have thoughts of suicide” and that children “become aggressive, isolated, or vengeful.”

As an example, Majd cites the case of a 15-year-old girl who was married for a year. “The day she committed suicide, she had an argument with her husband, so she left the house. When he came back, he found her dead,” said this worker, member of an allied NGO of Save the Children in the Region.

The situation is repeated in the case of 11-year-old Maher, whose mother tried to commit suicide after divorcing and living in poverty. He also began to develop suicidal thoughts and tried to combat social anxiety.

Sonia Khus, director of humanitarian aid for children in Syria, calls the situation “alarming” and “desperate”. “It is incredibly sad that they are reaching a point where they see no other way out of a life where they cannot get education, enough food or decent housing,” he complains.

The NGO calls on donors and the international community to invest in mental health and victim care programs, while it is important to address the root causes of the problems, for example by meeting the most basic humanitarian needs of people living in northwestern Syria.

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