In Bejaia, my home town, it was usual to hear in the morning that somebody had thrown himself off Place Gueydon. I have never seen it myself but it is said that people who go there very early in the morning can see the corpses…
The newspapers have also been reporting about suicides for many years now, either by strangulation or pills or a weapon (Algerian policemen happen to use their own weapons to commit suicide). Today, and since Tunisian El Bouazizi, more and more do set themselves on fire.
And there are varied reasons behind these suicides but from what I read in the newspapers, it seems like most are related to the hard living conditions and the pressure these people face in their daily life. The pressure can be psychological, economic, social, familial, professional, etc. I remember many cases of children committing suicide after their failure in the baccalaureate or BEF exams. There are also cases of very old persons, in their eighties, who committed suicide.
But most of the cases which have been reported by the press in the past year seem to be related to el hogra which the person couldn’t take any more. And these cases did follow El bouazizi’s method.
It is not clear what the rulers are doing to fix this nasty problem. The press reported cases of local authorities (mayor, etc.) daring the “mahgour” to suicide if he were Redjla, which would prove the issue is not taken seriously enough.
Also, unlike in Tunisia where El Bouazizi’s suicide had started something which led to Ezzine’s removal, we observe that things in Algeria do not change however big is the suicides number. It is therefore not an efficient method to solve one’s issues. I believe people’s life in Algeria hasn’t the same value as the rulers’. I remember Franz Fanon argued in one of his books that things started changing in colonized Algeria when everyone understood that Algerians’ lives were as worthy as the French ones.
So what to do with all these suicides?
We first had the official religious message reminding everybody that we’re Muslim and suicide is not legal in Islam. This reminder came from imams and politicians alike; but it doesn’t seem to work as, only today, El Khabar mentions at least 2 new suicides.
The latest government move was reported in El Watan three days ago. Apparently, and according to a professor at the hospital of Tizi-Ouzou, 90% of suicides are committed by mentally ill persons. Hallelujah! So there you go, the issue is just medical and has nothing to do with politics or society whatsoever. So just let the mental hospitals deal with it and everything will go just fine.
But even so, considering the professor is right, and knowing that all Algerians are mentally ill (Cheb Akil, whom I believe just like I believe the professor, said it in an old song), things do not look so good as, theoretically, every Algerian would be a potential candidate to suicide. Then who’s next?