Dealing with suicide becomes a political issue in Jordan

Public suicide attempts criminalized as their use for protest mounts

 JORDANIAN PRIME MINISTER Bisher al-Khasawneh speaks during a visit to Lebanon last year. Although Jordan plays an important role in securing Israel’s long eastern border, that doesn’t mean he can erupt into a seditious salute to Palestinian rioters. (photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR/REUTERS)
JORDANIAN PRIME MINISTER Bisher al-Khasawneh speaks during a visit to Lebanon last year. Although Jordan plays an important role in securing Israel’s long eastern border, that doesn’t mean he can erupt into a seditious salute to Palestinian rioters.
(photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR/REUTERS)

Jordanian officials are struggling to deal with an increase in suicides and attempted suicides as unemployment continues to plague a country that has little in terms of natural resources. 

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Both houses of Jordan’s Parliament have approved a controversial amendment to the Penal Code that will allow judges to imprison persons who attempt to commit suicide in a public location. Jordanian officials believe that most suicide attempts are public displays of protest rather than genuine efforts at ending one’s life. 

Jordanian soldiers stand guard during the Jordan's Prime Minister visit to the border crossing at the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, Jordan July 1, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/MUHAMMAD HAMED)Jordanian soldiers stand guard during the Jordan's Prime Minister visit to the border crossing at the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, Jordan July 1, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/MUHAMMAD HAMED)

The Senate approved the bill Tuesday after a strong plea by Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh, who argued that the country has an obligation to protect the lives of its citizens. It was already approved by the House of Representatives. 

“Jordan’s official religion is Islam and that all heavenly religions reject suicide or any attempt to take one’s life,” Khasawneh said. 

Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Oman all have similar laws, the prime minister said. 

Khasawneh said that normally a judge would order a psychological examination and, if he is convinced that the person has mental problems, he is allowed to reduce the punishment. 

The prime minister insisted that most attempts at suicide are not serious.