Dozens of people lit candles and carried flowers as they walked “together into the dawn" in a 1-kilometer silent walk marking World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday.
World Suicide Prevention Day is internationally observed every year on September 10 with activities around the globe bringing awareness and action to prevent suicide.
According to the mental health non-profit organization Embrace, in Lebanon, one person loses their life to suicide every two or 2.5 days and on average, one person attempts suicide every 6 hours.
However according to Embrace, suicides have decreased in the past two years.
The organization’s communications director, Hiba Dandachli, said that Lebanon reported around 170 suicides in 2019 and 150 in 2020; and they documented just 64 suicides in the first 6 months of 2021.
But as the number of people taking their own lives decreases, those seeking help and calling the national lifeline in Lebanon (1564), the emotional support and suicide prevention hotline that Embrace operates, have more than doubled.
“In 2019, we had 2,000 calls per year; in 2020, we had 6,000 calls per year and in 2021, until the end of August, we had received 6,000 calls. This means the state of people’s mental health is not good,” Dandachli said.
In July alone, Embrace received 857 calls to their hotline “despite repetitive power cuts” out of which 14 percent were from individuals under 18 years old of age - and they provided 700 free mental health consultations at Embrace mental health center, covering cost of medication for some 60.
For those who can’t access free mental health services in Lebanon, paid treatment is often out of reach for many as few insurers reimburse it.
Embrace’s annual silent walk is organized at dawn because “suicide was always a hidden subject we don’t talk about in our society so we wanted to bring it to light” in a symbolic walk to support and give hope to people who are suffering or others who lost loved ones to suicide, said the organization’s president Mia Atoui.