In a world teeming with progress, one persistent challenge darkens our collective horizon – the rising specter of suicide. Behind the cold statistics lie countless untold stories of despair, each one a testament to the urgent need for a compassionate and effective response. Let us delve into the stark realities that underscore the gravity of this issue.
The global landscape of suicide mortality rates is a sobering tableau. Over the years, the data reveals a consistent gender disparity, with male suicide rates consistently surpassing those of females. Between 2000 and 2019, the male suicide rate remained at an alarming average of 16.075%, overshadowing the female rate. While there has been a slight decrease in the overall rate, from 11.63% in 2000 to 9.33% in 2019, the persistence of high numbers and occasional spikes, like the one in 2013, signals an urgent need for intervention.
Economic disparities exacerbate the issue, as revealed by the Gender Distribution of Suicide Mortality Rates by Income Class. Notably, those with low income levels exhibit lower suicide rates (9.71% for males and 4% for females), hinting at a potential link between financial struggle and mental health. Paradoxically, the highest suicide rate is observed among high-income males, reaching a staggering 21.23%. The reasons behind this economic divergence merit careful consideration.
Zooming in on a country-by-country perspective, certain nations emerge as outliers, bearing the weight of exceptionally high suicide rates. Lesotho, Eswatini, the Russian Federation, Guyana, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Ukraine, South Korea, Botswana, Latvia, and Hungary are among the nations grappling with disproportionately high suicide rates. Identifying patterns within these outliers offers crucial insights into potential factors contributing to the crisis.
We should collaborate on comprehensive mental health education programs to destigmatize mental health issues and foster a culture of open communication. Developing targeted support systems for individuals facing economic challenges will address the intricate relationship between financial struggles and mental health. Strengthening community support systems to identify and aid individuals at risk ensures that no one is left to battle their demons alone.
Comprehensive Strategies for Mental Health Advocacy against Suicide could be the following:
Collaborate with educational institutions to integrate mental health education into curricula, focusing on destigmatization, early detection, and coping mechanisms.
Implement awareness campaigns to reach a broader audience and enhance understanding of mental health issues.
Establish programs offering financial counseling, employment assistance, and mental health resources tailored to different income groups.
Foster partnerships with businesses to create inclusive work environments that prioritize employee well-being.
Develop community-based mental health initiatives, including support groups, helplines, and outreach programs.
Encourage local leaders to champion mental health awareness and facilitate resources at the grassroots level, strengthening community outreach efforts.
In conclusion, conducting pilot programs in select regions to assess the effectiveness of the proposed solutions is a necessary step. Moreover, utilizing quantitative and qualitative metrics, such as changes in suicide rates, public awareness, and community engagement, will help evaluate the impact of implementing these measures.
Upon validation, refining and scaling successful programs for broader implementation is the next logical step. Advocating for policy changes that prioritize mental health and allocate resources to address the multifaceted challenges contributing to the global suicide crisis is crucial. Remember, breaking the chains requires a collective effort – a united front against the darkness that shrouds the lives of those grappling with the heavy burden of despair.
Contributors: Haidar Noureddine, Christy BouMansour, Haya Mouakeh, Jennifer Sabra, Hanine Charanek, Mohamad Kanj
The Downfall of the Lebanese Lira
Abu Ali, a farmer living in Beqaa valley in Lebanon was facing problems with his apples crops after he was forced to cut the pesticides used because of the price increase after the Lebanese crisis.
He wasn’t sure how to protect his crops after he put a lot of effort during the year and now he is worried because he doesn’t have any source of income anymore.
Ibrahim Tarshishy, who is also a farmer in Beqaa valley, was not able to sell all his apple crops where half of them got moldy. “To be honest, I don’t expect the days ahead to be good. I see before us more depression, sadness and poverty”, said Ibrahim Tarshishy, a farmer in Riyak region, Lebanon”
Like these two cases, lot of farmers were facing like these problems, and no one was able to help them, and as we reach the conclusion of 2022, Lebanon’s financial woes are rapidly approaching the critical stage, and the Lira exchange rate is reaching a breaking record.
The Lebanese Lira exchange rate decreased because the supply for dollar was not enough to match the demand, and the central bank did not have enough reserves to interfere and match it with the demand. The demand for dollars was mainly driven by the aim to complete imports transactions. Since 2002, the net trade balance was negative, and the deficit was growing, reaching very high levels to around $14 Billion in 2014. This means that imports were higher than exports, and so the dollars outflow was bigger than the inflow.
To maintain the exchange rate fixed, as it was the case earlier, Lebanon used to depend on two main sources for dollars inflow, net transfers sources, and financial account source. First, Lebanon used to depend on transfers which includes grants, loans, and personal remittances. The graph below shows that net transfers were bringing a significant amount of dollars. However, this source is very unstable. It is very fluctuating, and it depends highly on uncontrolled factors like the help from other countries that we can not control as shown in the graph.
The financial account consists mainly of Eurobonds, and investments in companies, and currency & deposits coming from abroad into the Lebanese banks. As shown, this account was a huge source for dollar inflow. However, again, it is very unstable, and very fluctuating. There are almost no two similar points that are equal. Further, it depends highly on uncontrolled factors. For example, after Iraq invasion, so many Iraqis transferred their money into the Lebanese banks, and so the dollar inflow increased, but this happened because an event that we do not have control over it.
These two accounts together were balancing the dollar demand needed from the imports. In cases of mismatch between dollar supply and demand, the central bank used to interfere by buying or selling dollars in the market to keep the exchange rate fixed. However, in 2018, we had the second largest BOP deficit as shown below, which means the second largest dollar shortage, but the central bank did not have enough reserves which caused the current crisis.
In summary, the crisis started mainly in 2018. However, the root reason behind it is not the absence of reserves, but that Lebanon was depending mainly on unstable sources of inflow for foreign currencies, which was very risky, and unstable to maintain because of the fluctuations.
To further enrich Lebanon’s economy, we introduce our project that aims on focusing on sustainable economic development that relies on an integrated export system, naturally creating tons of job opportunities by enhancing Lebanon’s agricultural sector due to the presence of fertile land, abundant water resources, good weather conditions .
The project will control the process from harvesting to exporting, and starting with enforcing regulations that benefit the farmers instead of making it harder for them to export their goods, implementing technical guides that monitors farmers’ techniques into adopting good agricultural transactions, as well as adopting training workshops administered agricultural engineers also supplying them with the latest and greatest equipment that regulate water usage while limiting their use of unsustainable substances, such as harmful pesticides, and providing alternatives that are viable.
Now, since Saudi Arabia is infamous for its totally dry lands and a central region that is characterized by extremely hot and dry summers, it harbors a very limited agricultural sector and thus heavily relies on importing olive oil as well as basic produce. We should make use of the current improving relationship between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon and prioritize exportation to this country due to the low and reasonable shipping fees.
The olive oil market in Saudi Arabia needs a lot of importation as a change in dietary habits throughout the entire country has spurred the consumption of it. Saudi Arabia started importing about 30,000 tons annually while only producing 20% of its own olive oil, but that’s slowly changing as it’s heading towards an independent olive oil market realm that’ll eventually decrease the exports. We won’t focus on increasing the imports from Lebanon but on decreasing the shipping and customs fees that were introduced in June of 2020.
As we mentioned above, a huge change in dietary habits and healthy eating have welcomed Saudi lifestyles, thus making produce, especially apples, way higher in demand. Lebanon exports apples to Saudi Arabia in relatively low quantities as opposed to other countries because of strict pesticide regulations. To increase the exports, we should introduce strict laws that modulate their usage.
Lebanon’s avocado exports were totally banned in Saudi Arabia because of drug smuggling fiascos, which led the Saudi government to enforce harsh consequences that will only be salvageable by an examining process that helps avoid any trials of smuggling drugs.
Cyprus makes a great exporter as well, as it only holds 14.52% of agricultural land that is extremely affected by small temperature inconsistencies. Our focus on Cyprus is mainly due to the distance from Lebanon, which is only 26 kilometers, making it extremely easy for shipments to move within those countries.
The olive oil market in Cyprus is in a desperately high demand since the consumption of olive oil is three times greater than what the country produces. Because of this, we should encourage exports from Lebanon in a way that competes with both Germany and Spain, since they’re offering their olive oil at similar and lower prices.
Considering Cyprus is one of the most countries with apple shortage, it exports most of its apple supply excluding Lebanon from its exportations because of a heavily regulated pesticide system, solving that issue requires us introducing strict pesticide laws, after that we can start exporting to Cyprus at the same rate and price that we export to Turkey.
Because of the free trade agreement between European countries, Lebanon is unable to compete equally with European countries at exporting avocados, yet we are able to compete with Egypt, which offers a lower price. To solve this, we can try and export at a lower price than Egypt.
Fatou is a 27-year-old housewife. At 15 years old, she decided to quit her education to get married to the love of her life, a man 8 years older than her, who had promised her a wealthy life in which she wouldn’t worry about a thing.
A few years into her marriage, her husband wasn’t doing well financially, and she found herself financially abused by him. All the promises went into vain and she was there begging for a penny to get the most basic goods she needed. Looking at herself, she found herself with no knowledge or skills to help her stand on her feet. With no education to support her, she felt like all the doors were shut, and her only salvation was her husband, who in turn belittled her for always being dependent on him, noting that it had been himself who stopped her from being an achiever.
This is not only the story of Fatou, but also that of millions of women living in disparity because they couldn’t be self-sufficient and independent. This story is yet another example of what the SDGs tackle, like Reduced Inequalities, among others as Quality Education and Gender Equality.
The contribution of women in the society decreases early marriage, and early marriage is linked to low education.
The graph shows the countries with the highest number of women who were first married by age of 15.
The top 3 countries with the highest number of women who were early married are Niger with 37.37% , Bangladesh with 32% and Chad with 29.25%.
Moreover, 76% of girls in Niger are married before their 18th birthday and 28% are married before the age of 15. Niger has the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world and the 13th highest absolute number of women married or in a union before the age of 18 globally – 745,000.
As a result, Awareness campaigns must be done to limit early marriage, and impose laws on marriage before 18.
In the time it has taken to read this article 39 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
In the 21st century, most citizens across the world have access to electricity. According to The International and National Law Policy, access to electricity is considered as a human right. However, there are still countries far from having electricity. The World Energy Outlook in 2016 reported that around 1.2 billion people (16% of world population), where 90% of those live in Africa, have no access to electricity. The population of the African continent is a home for almost to a fifth of the world population, whereas it accounts to less than 4% of global electricity use.
Lack of electricity hinders the provision of basic services. More than half of schools and clinics in Africa remain without power or reliable electricity. In addition, electricity is essential since in numerous cases it means the difference between life and death. For example, hospitals need electricity to activate respiratory machines for people with respiratory illnesses. A research reports that around 4 million women and children die because lack of electricity every year compared to 1 million by HIV.
Moreover, a study reports that the number of people with access to electricity has increased worldwide, yet in Sub-Saharan Africa the number of people without access increased from 74% to 77% before 2019. Through out the 21st century, non-African countries that had low access to electricity for their citizens had an improvement and increased its percentage, whereas African countries remained with low access showing no improvement.
The African continent has the ability to generate solar electricity for the whole world in only a small portion of its land, almost a small part in the Algerian desert. Therefore, it is easily possible to increase the access to electricity for all African citizens, however it only needs some radical reforms. This is a long process due to the control of EU colonizers and the presence of corrupt politicians in almost all African countries.