Collective suicide attempt raises concerns about unemployment in Jordan

Published May 12th, 2016 - 07:20 GMT
Unemployed and visually impaired Moroccan graduates scuffle with security forces as they try to enter the Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development in Rabat, on Thursday, to protest against unemployment. (AFP/File)
Unemployed and visually impaired Moroccan graduates scuffle with security forces as they try to enter the Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development in Rabat, on Thursday, to protest against unemployment. (AFP/File)

Police on Wednesday dissuaded five people from committing collective suicide by jumping off a building near the Interior Ministry Circle.

The incident fuelled concerns about the adverse impact of unemployment, with one scholar saying that fifth of the suicide attempts in Jordan are blamed on joblessness.

According to a Public Security Department (PSD) statement, the police managed to convince the men to terminate the plan, noting that unemployment was the motive behind their attempted suicide.

The five were taken for interrogation, said the PSD.

Sociologist Hussein Khozai, a professor at Balqa Applied University, said unemployment was the reason behind 20 per cent of suicides in Jordan last year.

"However, the idea of collective suicide is new, making the incident the first of its kind in the history of Jordan. This is horrifying," he told The Jordan Times, adding that depression, anxiety, frustration and fear of the future are all feelings that overwhelm young people who fail to find work opportunities.

"Unemployment is dangerous in its ability to drive young people to experience extreme emotions that lead to a serious mental illness," Khozai said.

On his official Twitter account, former prime minister Samir Rifai commented on the incident, saying that the young people attempted suicide after losing hope in finding a decent job.

"We have to sound the alarm. The theme of the stage should be: unemployment, unemployment and then unemployment," he said.
'Wasted opportunity'

Economist Zayyan Zawaneh said that the difficult economic situation of citizens is driving more and more youth to think of ending their lives, a phenomenon, he said, that is more evident than it appears to be.

"We often hear about young people dying due to reasons like shooting themselves 'by mistake' while cleaning the gun, but in reality it was suicide," he said, adding that the economic situation in the last five years has been going from bad to worst.

"The current government has been in power for four years during which it had the chance to implement economic programmes that create work opportunities...the government's efforts in dealing with the economic file have been fruitless," noted Zawaneh.

The economist noted that official figures estimate unemployment rate to stand at 13 per cent, while unofficial studies put them between 23 and 32 per cent.

He cited the decline in the sectors of tourism, transportation, industry and agriculture as evidence of the government's failure in addressing the challenges.

He indicated that young Jordanians are "deeply frustrated", saying that suicide, crime and extremism are the byproducts of the abysmal living conditions.

Zawaneh voiced his shock that some blame the young people themselves for failure to secure a decent living.

"Where are they supposed to find accessible funding? The interest rate of funding stands between 18 and 20 per cent,and there are no programmes that enable those who cannot afford university to enter the labour market as professionals," he said.

By Laila Azzeh


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