Suicide rates in the Gaza Strip have seen a 35-40 per cent increase in recent months compared to the same period in 2013-15, according to the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.
The 2014 Israeli war on the Strip, the ongoing siege which has crippled the economy and destroyed employment prospects have been highlighted as the main reasons for the increase. Eighty per cent of Gazan households now live below the poverty line, while 43 per cent of adult residents are out of work.
An estimated 80 Gazans tried or succeeded in taking their lives in January and February of this year. Suicides and attempted suicides averaged about 25-30 a month in 2013-2015.
“The situation has never been worse,” says Zahia Al-Qarra, MD, a psychiatrist with the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. “In the past, Gazans have always been able to find a way out when it got very bad. They would work in Israel or abroad in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. Even when those options were not available, they could escape through the tunnels into Egypt. But now that Israel and Egypt have destroyed most of the tunnels, there is no way out. We are trapped in Gaza. Everyone appears to be against us. All of the doors are locked.”