Anyone who has lost a beloved to suicide, homicide, or any form of violence knows how complicated & wrenching the grieving process is, how laden with guilt, recriminations, & the second-guessing of every interaction you ever had with the beloved. How much more so to sustain the violence of war & see one’s children, siblings, parents, neighbors bombed to death–as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, & Gaza–& to feel helpless to protect them.
So it is distressing, if not also predictable, to read reports from Gaza that after nearly a decade of economic blockade & repeated episodes of carpet bombing there are now 30 to 40 attempted suicides in Gaza every month. Many agencies have reported on the massive mental health crisis among children in Gaza. After Operation Ethnic Cleansing last summer, UNICEF estimated 430,000 required emergency psychological help & earlier studies estimated nearly 100 percent suffer PTSD. How could it be other when Israeli war planes hunted them down like beasts? And of course this doesn’t account for PTSD among adults who were unable to protect their beloved & often saw them buried in cement rubble. The survivor guilt & helplessness must be overwhelming & compounded by one’s own feelings of despair.
A mental health professional in Gaza said mostly young people attempt suicide through overdoses of medications, poisons, pesticides, cutting, burning, hanging, or jumping from heights. It’s almost too gruesome to consider.
The Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has predicted another assault over Gaza this summer. So international solidarity hasn’t a moment to spare in building the economic & cultural boycott (BDS) of Israel. Every opportunity must be maximized to evangelize for BDS & tell the world the truth behind the headlines. There can be rallies, speak-outs, forums, film showings, teach-ins–but most of all a refusal to buy a single product made in Israel or in Zionist settlements in the West Bank.