As the United Nations observed World Mental Health Day on October 10, experts in Palestine called attention to recent research indicating a growing risk of suicidal behavior among university students in the Gaza Strip.
This finding coincides with efforts to provide mental health programs on campuses in Palestine, in response to a recognition of the need for university graduates and a rise in mental health risks threatening Palestinian society. But in Gaza, those efforts often encounter social stigma and resistance.
A sense of hopelessness was behind the suicidal behavior among 17 percent of students at three universities in the Gaza Strip who participated in a study published in April. The study attributed that sense to “troubled living conditions in the Strip” that lead to psychological distress, uncertainty, depression, and anxiety.
The study, titled “Risk and Protection of Suicidal Behavior Among Palestinian University Students in the Gaza Strip,” was published by the International Journal of Mental Health. It analyzed the responses of 431 Palestinian students on five assessment tools used to gauge mental health, psychological resilience, and suicide risk. The participants were 20 to 29 years old and were students at three universities: Al-Aqsa University, the Islamic University of Gaza, and Al-Azhar University.