Deaths by suicide skyrocket in northwest Syria: Save the Children

Deaths by suicide skyrocket in northwest Syria: Save the Children
Suicide numbers have increased as humanitarian workers point to factors including overcrowded conditions and child marriage.
3 min read
29 April, 2021
A fifth of recorded suicide deaths and attempts were by children [Getty]
Suicide deaths and attempts have sharply risen over the past year in northwest Syria where locals and displaced people continue to grapple with the twin threats of aerial bombardment and the coronavirus pandemic.

Deaths by suicide increased by 86 percent in the last three months of 2020 in comparison to the first three months of that year, Save the Children said this week.

A fifth of all recorded suicide attempts and deaths were by children, the NGO said in a statement on Thursday.

"After ten years of conflict, we are now seeing children resorting to taking their own lives. It is incredibly sad that children are reaching a point where they see no other way out from a life where they cannot get an education, enough food or adequate shelter," said Sonia Khush, Save the Children's Syria Response Director.

A total of 246 people died by suicide during the last three months of 2020, while another 1,748 suicide attempts were recorded.

Read more: 'Raising a family with nothing': War takes its toll on Syria's displaced women

The majority of those deaths were recorded in people who had been displaced from their homes, the NGO said.

Northwest Syria is home to some 2 million displaced people, many of them twice or even three times displaced from their homes over the course of the decade-long conflict.

The last rebel-held region of Syria is where hundeds of thousands were forced to flee after other areas of the country were recaptured by Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The more than three million people living in the country's northwest face routine aerial bombardment by Syrian regime and Russian forces.

The crowded and unsanitary conditions in displacement camps and the lack of infrastructure in the northwest of Syria are exacerbating mental health problems, Save the Children said.

The NGO also points to increased poverty, broken relationships, domestic violence, and child marriage as factors for the rising numbers of deaths by suicide, particularly in children.

A mental health worker with Hurras Network, a partner organisation of Save the Children in the area, shared the story of a 15-year-old girl who died by suicide.

She had been married for a year before her death.

"The day she died by suicide, her husband was giving her trouble and they had an argument, so he left the house then came back to find her dead," the mental health worker said.

The NGO has called on donors and the international community to invest in mental health programmes and specialised support for survivors of domestic violence and suicide.

But donors and the international community must also address problems at their possible root cause, Save the Children said, referring to the provision of basic humanitarian needs.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected