In Lebanon, an activist’s suicide prompts mourning and debate

Published September 1st, 2016 - 02:18 GMT
Nourhan pictured in a news report on her death (Youtube Screengrab)
Nourhan pictured in a news report on her death (Youtube Screengrab)

Nourhan Hamoud was just twenty years old, but in Lebanon she was well known. Reports describe her as one of the most well-known activists in Beirut.

So her death has been a blow to many in Lebanon. Nourhan was found dead after apparently jumping from an eight story building early Tuesday morning in Beirut. Today. hundreds of messages left by friends and fans on Facebook and Twitter have paid tribute to Nourhan’s life, describing her as loved by everyone. Local news even carried reports on her life and death.

The tragic event, however, has provoked discussion about more than Nourhan’s life. In the wake of the news, many have focused on the circumstances of her death, taking the chance to urge against suicide.

RIP, nobody knows what is in the heart of people. But nobody should encourage suicide and consider it as strength and courage. May God give her mercy.

A hard decision for someone in your age… but you are not an idol for suicide is not the solution.

Speaking anonymously in a report by An-Nahar news agency, friends said that Nourhan had been going through a psychological crisis, but there were no specific tragedies, or social pressures that provoked her depression. When people asked her why she was sad, the report continued, she replied that “there was nothing wrong, but rather the world was devoid of happiness”.

With the circumstances around her death point to depression, journalists and commenters have used the opportunity to highlight the suffering caused by mental illness and suicide – although sometimes sensitivities meant the events weren’t explicitly linked to suicide.

Though I did not knew her but any news about suicide makes me feel so bad. God only knows what she was passing through and what pain she was having that made her suicide. RIP.

Other friends and commenters took a more critical stance, considering how attitudes towards mental health, depression and suicide might have contributed to the day’s tragic outcome – taking particular issue with mental health issues not being taken seriously.

Our ad agencies make fun of anxiety. Our society makes fun of depression,” wrote Elie Fares in his popular blog A Separate State of Mind. “Nourhan committed suicide not out of cowardice... She did so out of necessity, out of feeling that there was nothing in this life worth living for anymore. We’ve fostered that kind of feeling in her and inside everyone in this country who has done so, or is suffering from a mental health ailment.”

A vigil to raise awareness of suicide and mental health issues will be held in Beirut on September 10.

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