In the Dhi Qhar Province of Iraq, government agencies and civil society organisations have held a conference which seeks to address the increasing suicide rates across the country.
The year 2019 has seen public discussions on the issue of suicide in Iraq. Suicide rates are said to have increased this year and the issue has been given particular attention by the Iraqi Government. This conference in Dhi Qhar on the matter is another manifestation of this state-level interest in suicide in the country.
This conference in Dhi Qhar, which was held by the Human Rights Bureau and organised by the Health Office in Dhi Qhar in cooperation with the Office of Mental Health, has brought together several experts in the fields of health and sociology, as well as civil society organisations, to deliberate over the matter.
A variety of factors affecting the trend of suicide in Iraq were brought to light during the conference: family disintegration, drug abuse and the underlying structural factors of lack of economic opportunities as well as the past two decades of political instability and security problems.
“The most important of these problems are the changes and political conditions the country has experienced, in addition to economic factors”, noted Abdul Hussein, Director of the Human Rights Bureau based in Dhi Qhar.
Suicide has particularly impacted young people in Iraq, who have been experiencing extreme societal pressures in a context of a beleaguered economy, lack of political stability, and an unstable security situation. The relative stability that Iraq is enjoying now after much of ISIS’ presence has been eliminated from the country is allowing the government to play a more active role in implementing programs linked to social issues such as mental health among young people.
“There should be an important educational and ethical system developed from the beginning of the child’s development through primary and middle school. We must go back to extra-curricular activities and sports, which are very important”, commented Asil al-Shamari, a civil society activist who participated in the conference in Dhi Qhar.