CAIRO – 2 October 2017: At the beginning of September, social media users in Egypt became so overwhelmed with three posts of young Egyptian men who had resorted to Facebook to express their suicidal thoughts, and later on committed suicide for different reasons.
, as people mourned the young men and expressed sadness and pity. However, despite the tragedy, these public posts have also shed the light on highly overlooked high rates of suicide that take place every day but never surface.
According to the World Health Organization, the global percentage for suicide amounts to one suicidal case every 40 seconds, adding up to 800,000 every single year.
Egypt Today has reached out to the CEO and founder of the Middle East’s first internet-based counseling services network, Shezlong, to clarify this “phenomenon” of social media suicide posts.
“When people vent on social media, they think they’re alleviating their depression,” Ahmed Abu el-Haz tells Egypt Today, stressing that such attitude in unhealthy and unfruitful.
“What happens on social media can actually lead to depression because we all have different characters than our real ones, which gives us an escape. This can all lead to low self-esteem, which intensifies depression,” Abu el-Haz states, adding “depression is a disease with symptoms and a specific cure.”
Abu el-Haz further points out that Egypt witnesses a lot of suicide cases, which never surface or become known. “That’s why we are shocked when celebrities, social media users, or even family members and friends commit suicide,” he explains.
When psychotherapy is mentioned on Shezlong’s Facebook page, Abu el-Haz states, some users remark that one needs to have a better relationship with God to cure depression, or that medication may be causing it. “These kinds of misconceptions can cause individuals to let their depressive thoughts turn to suicidal ones,” he explains, adding that “we need to give suicide its proper value.”
Shezlong offers online counseling service through a website that enables patients to select from 100 therapists in different specializations, and then choose the most suitable one according to their case. They can then send a message, or book a visual session appointment.
“There are people who suffer from depression for one or two years and they do not deal with it or seek help for it. They ignore their depressive thoughts until they turn into suicidal ones,” Abu el-Haz says. “We cry and grieve when they die but that’s not the solution; we need to handle the depressive thoughts before they turn into suicidal ones,” he adds.
Shezlong was first launched in 2015. Today, 14,000 patients from 45 different countries use the platform’s services, seeking therapy through online video sessions.
The service will soon launch on WhatsApp so you can talk with a therapist wherever, whenever. A recently launched campaign, ‘Therapy for All,’ also limits all therapy sessions to LE 50 ($2.83), to be affordable for everyone.
Staying true to their slogan “You Talk. We Help,” the service is also set to launch as an app on Android and Apple devices.
Shezlong Via Facebook