By now, pretty much everyone has heard the talk of the town: the latest suicide attempt in Jordan. Amman is a small town that likes to talk, especially when it comes to an event where the attempted female jumper called the media to cover it, and in the process, tied up traffic on one of the busiest intersections in the capital. Since this is all very recent and with little information out there, you’ll have to forgive me for the following half-baked thoughts.
For a weekend event, it was widely covered by the mainstream media as well as the electronic media. Fellow blogger Roba has a good post on the fiasco that’s worth checking out, and as she points out, most of the onlooking crowds that gathered were generally happy or at least smiling as the event unfolded. Abdel Hadi Raji Majali wrote up a column echoing similar observations. Another dramatic suicide attempt also happened over the weekend, where a man under house arrest threatened to blow himself up.
In the case of this girl, Jihan, media has been quick to dissect her life – because naturally, everyone wants to know why anyone in Jordan would have a reason to commit suicide. She comes from a poor village, she achieved a 73% Tajihi average (scientific stream), went to nursing school, has a dead father, has five brothers and five sisters, and lives in a house where the family pays 80JDs a month in rent. I don’t know how accurate any of this information is, but I’m assuming there is some truth to it.
So naturally, we’re forced to wonder if poverty was the reason behind this suicide attempt, and, if so, is that any indication of how tough life has become for Jordan’s poor, i.e. the majority of this country that is struggling to make ends meet? It wouldn’t be the first time. Al-Ghad has a report dating back to 2005, where a young man tried to commit suicide in the same location as Jihan because of his dire financial situation.
In fact, both jumpers used the very same building!
Hajjaj even came up with this caricature the very next day, taking a quick jab at the government’s inability to provide real political reform or manage inflation (an apparently good reason for suicide in Jordan):
According to rumors I’ve heard so far, Jihan’s attempts to kill herself have ranged from wanting to marry a man who couldn’t afford to marry her, to not being able to afford to go to school. In fact, any rumor about her reasons seem to involve poverty.
Moreover, how many incidents of maids trying to commit suicide have there been in Jordan? At one point, there were eighteen cases in three months according to one report.
One guy has even set a record for the most suicide attempts in Jordan (11). The article also mentions that there are 400 suicides attempts a year in the Kingdom. If that number is accurate then it’s high time the government and the people start taking this matter a bit more seriously. It’s generally being brushed aside as an insignificant issue, much like honor crimes.
That being said, in order to take the issue seriously, the root causes need to be examined, and in many cases it seems suicides or suicide attempts tend to stem from widespread social problems such as poverty or domestic abuse. Even the number of suicide attempts in prison may be an indication of how badly prison reform is needed in the Kingdom. At one point, I remember a story of a man who killed himself in a prison (fairly recently) while on death row. In other words, things were so bad he couldn’t wait to die.
In any case, you know things are bad when people are trying to kill themselves due to poverty or social inequality or abuse. These may feel like isolated cases, but I think they are actually representative samples of a segment of society that is calling out for help.
The significance of her attempt stems from her possibly becoming the face of a cause.
I think I read somewhere also, that she lives in madaba but has to go to school in Maan.
But wait, now that we have a face for a cause, they won’t let us have it for long. Expect a royal patronage of some sort, the story then dies, and we will here the same praise for the king for being merciful.
It would be interesting to see actual statistics on how Jordan’s suicide rates compare to the rest of the world, and whether that suicide rate has changed recently. It’s easy to have a few high-profile cases that make something look like an epidemic (think shark attack “epidemics” that never were). Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, the government doesn’t release figures to the WHO for analysis (http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suiciderates/en/).
I meant for calling and inviting the media
WTF!!! Rising suicide rates, tribal violence on college campuses, abandoned babies, violence against domestic workers, police brutality, “suicides” in prisons, runaway poverty and corruption…Jordan is falling apart at the seams and I don’t believe those who run the show– and who are completely insulated from the consequences of their own failed social and economic experiments–give a damn other than the occasional press releases and condescending superficial theatrics of paternal compassion.
“WTF!!! Rising suicide rates, tribal violence on college campuses, abandoned babies, violence against domestic workers, police brutality, â€œsuicidesâ€ in prisons, runaway poverty and corruptionâ€¦Jordan is falling apart at the seams and I donâ€™t believe those who run the showâ€“ and who are completely insulated from the consequences of their own failed social and economic experimentsâ€“give a damn other than the occasional press releases and condescending superficial theatrics of paternal compassion.”
I agree with what you wrote , It is not only high times but it has been high times for long long time ,but nobody it seems is paying any attention to our social problems ,economic or political problems.
Yes poverty is the mother of all social economic and political problems that we are facing,it is an indication of the government abandoning it own citizen which they have been doing for a long time.
One question to Queen Rania and king Abdullah ,what happened to you Madrasati initiative?.
I think ,much needed drastic and revolutionary change is needed ,it’s time for revolt on the system that has promised so much and gave nothing..
People imagine that the world changes in a few days… it takes years and years to change things, and takes generations to change mentalities…
patience… at least we started becoming aware of the problems surrounding us… now we start moving to change things for the better.
madas, You are right on the money. Change takes a long time. The problems we are faced with today are a result of years of neglect and failed leadership and bogus development agenda that’s more glow and no go. The Jordanian regime is 90% security and 10% development. We have known about these problems years ago and we have watched the development indicators decline year after year. As Jordanians we are so helpless in the face of this corrupt and incompetent regime there is not a damn thing we can do. Not for as long as the White House is the ultimate power broker in Jordan.
it saddened me to see (from the pics) the majority of the people in the crowd were smiling, as if Jehan’s suicide attempt was an exciting spectacle! I bet a lot of them were there so that later they would claim to be eye witnesses– as if it would gain them points or something.. it’s just such a Jordanian behavior!
I hope Jehan gets whatever kind of help needed from therapy, even though i think she was just acting out of desperation, to financial aid.
If u say poverty, illiteracy, crimes, unemployment Iâ€™ll say our governments!in my humble opinion, the way any country is run would be the root cause!
i wish you would step back from that ledge my friend .. just kidding .. to me the worst thing about all this is the reactions from the crowd and even from some bloggers .. like this is somehow a joke ..
Nas, partially off topic, but I have a hard time navigating your archives and am looking for your previous posts about honor killing. Would you mind publishing a new post with those links and a new thought or two? thx.
kinzi: sorry about that…my archives have been screwed up for a while now. here’s a selection of what i could dig up…
thank you for the facts you gathered in the post, well done.
Thanks so much, Nas. I always assume I am the problem when it is a tech thing 🙂
Well I was driving in the same street when that girl tried to commit suicide. At first I thought there was a carnival or a Friday Open day or something because people were walking joyfully down that street I couldn’t see the end of! I’m so shocked at y people reacted that way:S makes me sick.
Well on a funnier note, I think that building is NOT RECOMMENDED for attempting suicide 🙂
Suicide affirms a very important human ‘right’: the right to die. It is a freedom, according to Stoic philosophers such as Zeno and Sextus Empiricus, that is as essential and as life affirming as the right to live and the right to be lazy. This may sound contradicting, but if a man CAN or at least has the POTENTIAl of ending his life, then no other person could control/enslave him. He is therefore free and independent, never submitting his will to no one, through his right to die.
For this you can read also Kant (Lectures on Ethics) and Schopenhauer (Parerga and Prolegomena).
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