The number of suicides among 16-25 year-olds is growing. 90% of children have been subjected to a traumatic experience. "Inhuman" conditions in Gaza. Young people are depressed, hungry and hopeless. The "world of war" lives in the minds of children. There are no structures for psychological support. The situation is expected to get worse to turn to drug therapy. Personality disorders and traces of this suffering are destined to remain for "many years", even if there were peace. The story of a psychologist active in the Strip.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - When Dr. Jamal Dakdouki asked a mother how old her son was, she replied: "By the next war he will be eight years of age". In Gaza, the years are counted in conflicts: every summer new clashes, and this year does not seem to be an exception, with yet another exchange of rockets launched between one side and the other of the border. The weight of the violence, combined with the humanitarian crisis aggravated by the closure of the crossings, has destroyed a whole generation: the children and young people of Gaza are alone, depressed, hungry and without dreams.
Dakdouki is a psychotherapist, director of The Galilee Society and a member of the Physicians for Human Rights - Israel team, with whom he travels to the Strip between 5 and 6 times a year. Here, the psychotherapist instructs doctors, social workers, nurses and sometimes teachers to face the "invisible" crisis in Gaza, the psychological one. The last expedition took place on June 7 and 8 (see photo 4).
"I have been in Gaza since 2008. The situation has never been so miserable, so difficult. The conditions are inhumane. There is no electricity, no drinking water, even the most mundane medicines. Not to mention that the water in Gaza is contaminated and salty. Let's take the sea of Gaza: we end up all the filth of the Strip. The sea now smells, it's dirty, it's not good even for swimming ". Then there is unemployment, which among young people exceeds 60% and also involves those who are able to graduate, whatever their field of study.
"Without work, it is so difficult to live and move on, to find a piece of bread, a tomato - says Dakdouki - and when you do not eat well, it also affects the psychological state of people. They are disillusioned, depressed, hungry, and this increases many undesirable social phenomena, such as violence, aggression, suicide ".
Because of the "taboo" on suicide, there is no official research and data on the number of suicides among young people. However, for Dakdouki it is clear that the phenomenon is becoming worrying, especially for children between 16 and 25 years.
"Suicide comes from constant stress young people in Gaza are always in, nobody can move, travel. Life does not change, the days all resemble each other. They wake up, stay at home, then go to sleep. They go out for a walk, but they stay in the neighborhood. There is nothing that interests them, those reasons, that leads to life and hope. When one has no hope, he thinks of dying: 'If I do not have the right to live a peaceful life, why do I exist?' For this, at the first emotional obstacle, at the first conflict with parents, at work, in a loving relationship, when they fail something, they decide to put an end to their life ".
The psychological suffering does not only affect the adolescents of Gaza, but also the youngest ones. "There is a fact that about 90% of Gaza's children have witnessed traumatic events: explosions, wars, missiles, shootings. 90% saw another child being killed, imprisoned, wounded. This 'world of war' is alive in the minds of children. This is why so many of them have speech problems, wet themselves, are hyperactive, stressed, the level of learning is reduced and there is a lot of scholastic dispersion. They do not feel protected, because even their parents, older brothers and sisters are damaged in the psyche. So they remain alone, without care and attention. Add to this the lack of nutritional basics: there is no milk, meat and fish. This also damages the nervous system. You can see children in the camps of Gaza without shoes, dressed badly, and we see that they are bad ".
"On the other hand - continues Dakdouki - structures, psychological centers are lacking. There are no psychologists who are sufficiently prepared to help them, there are no centers to diagnose. It is expected that the situation will get worse and eventually go to the psychiatrist for pharmacological therapy, but not from the psychologist ".
"The occupation, the siege, the lack of peace - he concludes - destroy these generations, kill their dreams. The serious thing is that the traumas will take effect in the long run: even if one day there were peace, these personality disorders and traces of this suffering will go on for many years. The need for psychological treatment in Gaza is very, very urgent ".