This is quite a frightening figure to be honest and we are reminded of it every now and then but it’s not an accurate one. In fact, there are no accurate reports on suicide rates in Lebanon and they could be much higher for all I know. Back in 2012, WHO reported that the age-standardized suicide rate per 100,000 is 0.9 in Lebanon, which means there are around 45 deaths due to suicide yearly but officials reported 107 registered deaths due to suicide in that same year.

There are several social, religious and legal factors in our Lebanese culture that limit reporting cases of suicide but there are also several cases falsely labeled as suicide, especially when it comes to house keepers in Lebanon.

The only sure thing is that we need further awareness on mental illness like depression, addiction to alcohol or drugs, or schizophrenia, and we desperately need a suicide prevention helpline, affordable mental health care centers and better reporting of suicide and attempted suicide cases in our country.

Embrace Fund, a mental health awareness and support network affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), is organizing for the second year a 5 AM walk on September 10 to “to symbolize moving from darkness towards light, from despair towards hope, and from stigma/ignorance about mental illness towards knowledge and acceptance”. The aim is to raise further awareness and dispel the myths and misinformation surrounding mental illness in Lebanon and help establish the first suicide prevention helpline in Lebanon.

I wish I could join the walk next Saturday and I truly hope Embrace Fund gets the necessary fund to launch the suicide prevention helpline once and for all.

nourhan A Graffiti depicting Nourhan Hammoud a Lebanese girl in her twenties who committed suicide last week.