- Title: As Lebanon's crises weigh heavy, people light candles in suicide prevention walk
- Date: 12th September 2021
- Summary: BEIRUT, LEBANON (SEPTEMBER 12, 2021) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE, HOLDING CANDLES AND FLOWERS, MARCHING AT DAWN IN A SILENT WALK ORGANIZED BY THE MENTAL HEALTH NON-PROFIT ORGANISATION, EMBRACE, MARKING WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY THAT WAS ON FRIDAY (SEPTEMBER 10) PEOPLE, HOLDING CANDLES AND FLOWERS, WALKING CANDLE AND FLOWER HELD BY MAN WALKING / PEOPLE WEARING VESTS READING (Arabic and English): "EMBRACE. MENTAL HEALTH FOR ALL" MORE OF PEOPLE, HOLDING CANDLES AND FLOWERS, WALKING BEIRUT, LEBANON (SEPTEMBER 10, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PR AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR OF EMBRACE, HIBA DANDACHLI, SAYING: "In Lebanon, as time goes on, we can say that every two to two and a half days, one person loses life to suicide." BEIRUT, LEBANON (SEPTEMBER 12, 2021) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE GATHERING AROUND CANDLES DURING THE SILENT WALK CANDLES ON THE FLOOR PLACED IN PAPER BAGS ON WHICH PEOPLE HAVE WRITTEN PEOPLE, HOLDING CANDLES AND FLOWERS, GATHERING AT MEETING POINT AHEAD OF THE WALK PRESIDENT OF EMBRACE, MIA ATOUI, SPEAKING AT MEETING POINT AHEAD OF THE WALK AND SAYING (Arabic): "We will walk again together this year, and hopefully every coming year, there won't be things keeping us away from each other" CANDLE HELD BY PARTICIPANT IN THE WALK BEIRUT, LEBANON (SEPTEMBER 10, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PR AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR OF EMBRACE, HIBA DANDACHLI, SAYING: "Our mental health specialists always focus on one thing, when we talk to them during our monthly talks about numbers, that people exposed to catastrophes - be it man-made or natural disasters, like the ones we went through in the past two years - tend to hang on to life during this difficult period. So while their mental health disorders are increasing, their inclination to suicide is decreasing, not for the long term, this is for a short term. Surely, if those mental health disorders passed without treatment or attention, they could lead to an increased rate of suicides in the future." BEIRUT, LEBANON (SEPTEMBER 12, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING SILENTLY VEST OF MAN WAKING READING (Arabic and English): "EMBRACE. MENTAL HEALTH FOR ALL" MORE OF PEOPLE WALKING RAOUCHE ROCKS SEEN BEHIND CANDLES PEOPLE WALKNG PEOPLE WALKING PAST RAOUCHE ROCKS BEIRUT, LEBANON (SEPTEMBER 10, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PR AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR OF EMBRACE, HIBA DANDACHLI, SAYING: "Calls to the lifeline number had multiplied by 3; 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 received 6,000 calls. This means the state of people's mental health is not good." VARIOUS OF SIGN ON THE WALL AT EMBRACE MENTAL HEALTH CENTER READING (Arabic and English): "TALKING SAVES LIVES. 1564" VARIOUS OF EMBRACE OPERATORS WORKING AND TALKING ON THE PHONE BEIRUT, LEBANON (SEPTEMBER 12, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE, HOLDING FLOWERS, GATHERING IN FRONT OF RAOUCHE ROCKS AT THE END OF THE WALK VARIOUS OF WOMAN WRITING ON STATION SET-UP BY EMBRACE AT THE END POINT OF THE WALK RAOUCHE ROCKS/ PEOPLE GATHERING AT THE END OF THE WALK AND WRITING ON THE SET-UP STATION VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WRITING ON THE SET-UP STATION WOMAN, HOLDING FLOWER, READING WRITINGS ON THE STATION MAN WRITING, AS SEEN THROUGH THE TRANSPARENT PAPER OF THE STATION (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LIFELINE OPERATOR WITH EMBRACE AND NUTRIONIST, NOUR JERDI, SAYING: "The walk we organize every year means a lot to me, and it motivates me to work harder and give more with Embrace, to be able to help as many people who are suffering silently as possible, be it those who have suicidal thoughts or mental health problems." WOMAN, HOLDING FLOWER, WRITING THE LIFELINE NUMBER "1564" (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LIFELINE OPERATOR WITH EMBRACE AND NUTRIONIST, NOUR JERDI, SAYING: "Around four years ago, an international singer I love a lot lost his life to suicide, this triggered emotions and mental health struggles within me. I had suicidal thoughts, I went into a depression more than one time. And two years ago, one day before this walk we organize with Embrace, I lost my friend to the same reason. There are also other people, close or around me, friends or acquaintances, who we are losing to suicide. Following my experience, I am going through therapy and following up with therapists, I feel like I want to help as much as I can to spread awareness about mental health and specially, suicide prevention." VARIOUS OF EMBRACE MEMBER SPEAKING AT THE END OF THE WALK / PEOPLE GATHERING AND LISTENING PEOPLE CLAPPING (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE CONSULTANT PARTICIPATING IN THE WALK, NOUR MOUAWAD, SAYING: "The fact that people woke up early, and did an extra effort for people who may be doing one or more efforts a day, shows that there are people around them. Participating in the walk is very important to me on a personal level, because we all go through hard times and need to know there are people next to us, people ready to stand by us and hear us."
- Embargoed: 26th September 2021 12:52
- Keywords: Lebanon crisis mental health silent walk suicide
- Location: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- City: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Middle East,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA001EUEYJBP
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Dozens of people lit candles and carried flowers as they walked "together into the dawn," on Sunday (September 12) in a 1-kilometer silent walk marking World Suicide Prevention Day.
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 organisation 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 organisation'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% 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 organised 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 organisation's president Mia Atoui.
(Production: Yara Abi Nader, Mohamed Azakir, Issam Abdallah)
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