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Slain Iraqi Journalist Typical Of Senseless Deaths

The number of suicides in war-ravaged Iraq is increasing due to psychological stress caused by relentless violence, medical experts said.

"We see more cases of suicide each month and all evidence shows that the main reason for the suicides has been the stress and pressure caused by the continuing violence," said Dr. Muhammad Hamza, a specialist in suicide medical investigation at the Ministry of Health.

Hamza said that he found that 70 percent of suicide victims chose to poison themselves using rat and cockroach poison. Others either shot or hanged themselves.

"Some of them leave letters to their parents and the most common excuse given for their act is that they can no longer bear the violence," Hamza said.

"This week I had two cases of suicide. One person committed suicide because of the daily threats to his life which he had been receiving, and the other one because her husband had been killed and she became so desperate that she killed herself too," Hamza added.

Based on statistics from the Baghdad mortuary and hospitals in five regions, the Ministry of Health said that about 20 people have been committing suicide each month since January. Thirty others attempted suicide but were saved.

"The numbers are high when compared to those during Saddam Hussein's regime when we used to have one or two suicide cases a month," said Ahmed Fatah, a member of the suicide investigation department at the Ministry of Health.

According to the Ministry of Health, the country's continuing violence has had more psychological effect on the less privileged segment of society -- those with little education or who are poor. "They are at their wits' end in dealing with threats or the pressure of violence. They do not have the wherewithal to protect themselves from violence and for economic reasons they cannot leave the country," a Ministry of Health official said on condition of anonymity.

"Today it is the adults who are committing suicide but it will not be long before children too start taking their own lives," said Fatah.

The World Health Organization (WHO) office in Amman, Jordan, has said that it does not have statistics on suicide cases in Iraq, but that it was not surprising to see such high suicide numbers considering the circumstances the country is living under.

© IRIN   [Integrated Regional Information Networks is a project the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]

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Albion Monitor   December 30, 2006   (

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