A 52-year-old bankrupt, Lebanese taxi driver tried to kill himself twice in a single week.
On January 6, Ali Amhaz stopped his car on Beirut Airport’s old highway and set himself and the vehicle in fire using benzene. Several bystanders saved him.
With severe body burns, Amhaz spoke briefly to Al Arabiya English recounting what happened on the day. He explained that he has no money, often sleeps in his taxi, and cannot buy food every day.
“I rent the taxi car for one million Lebanese pounds a month,” he said. “For a whole week I didn’t pick up a single passenger… that day I filled a small bottle with benzene. I was so desperate and wanted to be with my son who died last year because of his sickness. I set my car and myself afire,” said Amhaz.
His son, Bilal was born with a birth deformity that affects growth. He died last year at the age of 17.
Fadi, a second son now 17, left home, and rarely visits his father.
Ali’s sister, Amal Amhaz told Al Arabiya English that he tried to kill himself again soon after.
“Four days later he tried to jump off a cliff near his house in Biaqout [a village close to Mount Lebanon],” his sister said.
Amal said that the police told her that the owner of the rented taxi lodged a complaint against her brother for $3,000.
“We desperately need financial assistance. Our government does not provide us with any form of support. We cannot admit him to hospital as he needs treatment for his burns aside from his lungs and kidneys problems. Ali told me how distressed he is and cannot survive anymore. He honestly told me he wants to be with Bilal,” the sister said.
On Tuesday, as public transport drivers blocked Beirut-Tripoli highway to protest against the deteriorating economic crisis in the country, and the cabinet’s decision banning them from working during the 11-day curfew, a driver drenched himself with petrol, but other drivers stopped him from setting himself ablaze.