Jordan suicides skyrocketed after Covid, says top psychiatrist
Covid-related suicide deaths in Jordan are expected to increase despite the pandemic coming to an end, a psychiatrist said on Monday.
Dr. Walid Serhan, the Middle East representative at the World Association of Psychiatrists, said rates of mental disorders had risen sharply during and after the pandemic, the Jordanian news agency Petra reported.
Jordan's economy was badly hit by Covid-19, with the kingdom enacting some of the toughest lockdown restrictions in the world.
Speaking at a conference in Amman where mental health during the coronavirus pandemic was discussed, Serhan said there was a significant increase in the number of people suffering from anxiety and depression in Jordan in 2020 when lockdown restrictions were implemented.
Anxiety-related and depressive disorders had risen within one year by 26 percent and 28 percent respectively, he said, and suicide numbers were expected to continue to rise despite the world slowly returning to normal following the pandemic.
Looking into patients diagnosed with Covid six months after they contracted the virus, Serhan said that 31 percent of them suffered from depression, 46 percent from increased anxiety, and 50 percent from cognitive imbalances.
He added that 36 percent of them noticed an increase in fatigue, while another 38 percent had problems sleeping.
Despite the existence of prevention and treatment options, most people with mental disorders do not have adequate care in Jordan, and many suffer from stigma, discrimination, and are subject to human rights violations, he added.
The psychiatrist stressed that mental disorders are widespread and do not take priority in Jordan’s healthcare system.
The coronavirus pandemic had shown the system’s flaws and weaknesses, he added.
Last month an organisation specialising in mental health and psychosocial support called the International Medical Corps (IMC) reported that there were 593 attempted suicides and 143 suicides in 2021 compared to 116 suicides in 2019.
The IMC found that suicide in Jordan had numerous contributing factors, including the Covid-19 pandemic and high unemployment, which has soared to nearly 25%.
Earlier this year, the Jordanian parliament passed a much-criticised law criminalising suicide attempts.