Sherif Qamar video screenshot
CAIRO – 12 September 2017: Three men expressed their suicidal thoughts on Facebook before taking action upon their struggle to stay and fight through their depression. The Facebook posts have since gone viral on social media, initiating dialogue around the taboos of suicide and mental health. The cases reported below included depression and family disputes.
Sherif Qamar, a 21-year-old medicine student at Ain Shams University, published a video on YouTube in June expressing his feelings of worthlessness. In the video, Qamar shares his suicidal thoughts and depression with his followers, admitting that he had previously tried to commit suicide multiple times. “We’re not the center of the world. People forget about you when you leave,” he says.
Several days before Qamar committed suicide, he reached out to his Twitter followers and asked their opinion on how he should commit suicide in a poll; eighty percent selected jump, twenty percent selected poison, yet no one voted for strangling. The incident raises questions concerning why one would turn to social media seeking an answer for mental health issues, and why the followers’ responses were to vote as opposed to actively take a stand and reach out.
Hazem Abdel Monem wrote his suicide note in a Facebook post, saying his final goodbyes to his friends. According to the Egypt Independent, the reason for his suicide was a family dispute regarding inheritance. His body was found and retrieved from the Nile bank in his hometown of Minya, a city in Upper Egypt.
The third suicide victim is El Sayed El Sharkway. He listed his reasons for wanting to commit suicide as being unable to face ongoing personal problems. He then tragically lost his life to suicide and many of his friends expressed condolences for his death via Facebook. Due to the taboo of suicide and mental health in a Middle Eastern country, his brother posted on his personal Facebook page that El Sharkway did not commit suicide as some social media users are suggesting, asserting that he passed away due to natural causes.
According to the
close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Many more attempt suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people starting at 13 years old till 29 years olds globally.
78 percent of suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries in 2015. Suicide accounted for 1.4 percent of all deaths worldwide, making it the 17 leading cause of death in 2015. Effective and evidence-based interventions can be implemented at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts.
There are indications that for each adult who died of suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide.