Two Palestinians in Gaza attempt suicide
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Two Palestinians in Gaza attempt suicide

WHO official says the number of suicides in Gaza seems to have increased in recent years

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Illustrative: Palestinian ambulances in Gaza waiting at the Rafah border crossing on January 10, 2008. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash
90/File)
Illustrative: Palestinian ambulances in Gaza waiting at the Rafah border crossing on January 10, 2008. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90/File)

Two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip attempted suicide in separate incidents on Monday, an official in Hamas’s security apparatus confirmed.

The story was first reported by several Palestinian news sites.

In one incident, a 38-year-old woman jumped off the third floor of a building in Gaza City, the official said in a phone call.

“It appears that she attempted to commit suicide because she wanted to see her children, who are currently with her ex-husband,” he said.

The woman was lightly injured and was treated at a nearby hospital, according to the official.

In another incident, a young man tried to kill himself by setting himself on fire in Jabalya in northern Gaza, the official said.

“He lit himself on fire, but citizens immediately ran to him and extinguished the flames,” he said. “He seems to have been protesting a fine that he was given.”

The young man was moderately injured and was also treated at a local hospital, the official added.

The suicide attempts took place after a young Palestinian in Gaza reportedly hanged herself in early July and several others reportedly attempted to kill themselves in March.

They also occurred as Gaza is facing a major humanitarian crisis. The coastal enclave suffers from severely inadequate water, electricity and health infrastructure, widespread poverty and a high unemployment rate. In July 2017, a senior UN official told AFP that the Strip may already be “unlivable.”

Gaza has experienced three wars with Israel in the past 11 years, including one that lasted some 51 days in 2014. The war in 2014 resulted in damage to homes and property of tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Strip.

Mahmoud Daher, the head of the World Health Organization’s sub-office in Gaza, said in a phone call with The Times of Israel that there is a general sense in the Strip that the number of suicides and suicide attempts has increased in the past two to three years.

He said that reputable data largely does not exist on suicide rates in Gaza, but mentioned that more women commit or attempt suicide than men.

According to the American Psychological Association, suicide is most often the result of depression or other mental illnesses.

Daher said many factors contribute to depression among Palestinians in Gaza including difficult economic circumstances, family disputes, hormone- and gene-related matters and other issues.

An official at the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza did not respond to a request for comment.

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