Suicides in Aden:  Shocking Facts & Figures [Archives:2001/42/Reportage]

October 15 2001

Mohammed Saeed Al-Mikhlafi
Suicide is a widespread phenomenon which affects the lives of people of various age groups regardless of being males or females. The motivations that may force a person to commit suicide vary from one person to another, based on the psychological and social environment. Moreover, the reason behind suicide could be a psychological disorder, which may not noticed by the persons living along with the person who commit suicide.
In an attempt to know more about this phenomenon through different points of view, we paid visits to some departments closely linked to contemplating the reasons leading to suicide. Based on the studies conducted by the Department of Planning & Information at Aden Security Department, the reasons behind committing suicide appear to be moral weakness and lack of religious discipline. In addition, suicide is one of the most mysterious and incomprehensible acts committed by human beings.
Aden Governorate totaled 77 suicides and 114 suicide attempts from 1995 to 1999. In 1995 alone, Aden witnessed 13 suicides and 20 suicide attempts, while in 1996 the number of suicides reached the number of 14 with 20 suicide attempts. In 1997, there were 18 suicides and 30 suicide attempts, for 17 suicides and 25 suicide attempts in 1998. In 1999, the number of suicides and suicide attempts totaled 15 and 19 respectively. Thus, the total number of persons to have committed suicide or to have attempted committing suicide in the period running from 1995 to 1999 totaled 191.
Consequently, suicides have witnessed a significant increase from 1995 to 1998 as the highest number of suicides was registered in this period. The highest number of suicides was in 1997 totaling 18 suicides, for 15 suicides only the following year. Similarly, the suicide attempts also rose in 1997 to 30 attempts, while dropping to 19 attempts in 1999.
The reasons and motivations leading to committing suicide can be outlined in the weakness of religious discipline, psychological disorders, social problems, and suffering from incurable diseases.
As for the methods used in committing suicide, they range from shooting a gun, hanging, taking drugs and toxic substances, setting the body on fire, and jumping from high buildings. As for sex differences, the year 1998 can be taken as an example. Out of 15 suicides, males and females accounted for 10 and 5 respectively. Out of 25 suicide attempts, there were 10 males and 15 females.
Concerning the age groups of the persons who committed or attempted suicide, the age group from 18-30 years witnessed 16 suicides (14 males and 2 females). In the age group from 42-50 years, there had been 17 suicides (13 males and 4 females).
The educational levels of the persons who committed or attempted suicide are as follows: from the 1st grade up to the 7th grade there had been 10 suicides (8 males and 2 females); from the 8th grade up to secondary school there had been 18 suicides (12 males and 6 females); at post-secondary education only 2 suicides were witnessed; in the level of illiterate people, 10 committed suicide (3 males and 7 females).
As far as techniques used for committing or attempting to suicide, 11 suicides were carried out by absorbing large quantities of drugs (3 males and 7 females), 14 suicides by setting body on fire (5 males and 9 females), 3 suicides by shooting a gun, 5 suicides by cutting veins, 3 suicides by jumping from high places, 2 suicides by hanging, 1 suicide by drinking toxic substances, and one by stabbing the stomach with sharp glass.
Now let us have a look at some cases. A.A., 35 years old, holder of a diploma from the police college and who used to work for the police, shot himself causing immediate death. He left a farewell message to his wife in his pocket. After checking the personal record of that person, it was confirmed that he was unsociable and extremely loved his wife but thought she did not care for him.
Another person: N.A., 34 years old, a secondary school female teacher who used to work for a nursery, was found dead after she set herself on fire. It was confirmed that she was suffering from chronic psychological problems and that her body presented deformations since her birth. In addition, she appeared to be ugly and to have only one eye.
We interviewed many specialists about this alarming phenomenon in an attempt to discuss the reasons behind suicide and to find appropriate solutions to this problem. Here are some excerpts of the interviews:
Abdulwahid Abdurahman Ahmed, professor of psychology at Aden Faculty of Education, points out that suicide is a social phenomenon prevailing in many societies because of several reasons linked to the social fabric of those societies. Suicide is the act of killing oneself intentionally by using a certain method of his own and without the intervention of other persons. Moreover, suicide is a behavioral phenomenon in response to certain social circumstances. It is also noticeable that suicide among males is more common than among females.
Some studies reveal that suicide increases when one gets older. However, there are noticeable differences in this regard due to the biological, psychological and social structure of people. Similarly, there are many ways for committing suicides, that are mostly related to gender and age. Concerning the reasons and motivations behind committing suicide, they vary from one society to another. It is obvious that the main reasons behind committing suicide are family break-ups, divorce, economic hardships, social problems, pessimism, failure, feeling to have sinned or to be guilty, self-hatred, self-denial, and psychological instability. Similarly, the reasons leading to committing suicide are principally caused by depression, which result from failure in love relation, disappointment, losing a job or the death of a dear person. Indeed, all what has been mentioned before are direct consequences of depression and stress. It has been proved that the depression-related diseases are amongst the most fatal diseases and even more serious than heart and cancers diseases. This is an issue of major concern. Psychological disorders should be given proper attention and not separated from the physical illnesses. Almost every psychologist along with other specialists acknowledge the strong relationship between the psychological mood and the immunity system since depression, worry and stress are closely related to physical illnesses, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatism and some cancer diseases.
Sheikh Abdulbari Mohammed Othman noted that the suicide phenomenon is a clear manifestation of the person’s inability to assume his duties and responsibilities in life. In fact, this is just a reflection of the pessimism and melancholy in which the person who committed suicide used to live. The spirit of the person who commits suicide is full of psychological illnesses and complexes. Furthermore, the person who does commit suicide is an abnormal person lacking faith in God and sees everything as dark and bleak. Interestingly, suicides are seldom taking place in Islamic societies since the person who dares committing suicide should have no faith in the almighty God. The Holy Quran stated that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, it would be as if he had killed all mankind, and if anyone who saved a life, it would be as if he had saved the lives of all mankind.
The Manager of the Criminal Investigation Office in Aden, Colonel Abdulhadi Ghaleb0, says that this phenomenon is not widely spread in Aden. We can call it a phenomenon found within the family context. We observed that this phenomenon was restricted only to some people who always fell under the influence of chronic psychological disorders or excessive use of drugs. All these issues have negative consequences and result in committing suicide consciously or unconsciously.
Love and infatuation among the youth is the major cause of suicide. When they are suddenly informed that their marriage proposals are rejected, whether they are males or females, they may choose suicide.
Those who tried to commit suicide by absorbing toxic substances are usually saved. Therefore, our duty is to treat them well, calm them down and find the main causes of their suicide attempts by meeting their relatives and their parents. By this, we can given them the chance to look for better solutions and better treatment.
He added that such problems must be tackled immediately by informing and spreading awareness among the people. The security departments as well as the media have thus to assume their respective duties effectively in this respect.
Taking as a whole, the proper education of our children and involving them in the different difficulties and tribulations of life will give them the chance to be more patient and efficient in tackling their daily life problems. As we must support them, we must let them know the true principles of Islam, fear of the Almighty God and trust in Him, which all will function as deterrents from any act of suicide.