KSA suicides hike among foreigners

Work-related problems have sparked a spate of suicides among mainly Indian expatriates in the kingdom, according to police.

TOUGH TIMES: Expatriate labourers in Saudi Arabia face low pay
TOUGH TIMES: Expatriate labourers in Saudi Arabia face low pay

Work-related problems have sparked a spate of suicides among mainly Indian expatriates in the kingdom, according to police.

The latest Saudi Ministry of Health figures reported that 266 labourers, including 203 Indians, committed suicide in 2006.

Saudi police, who investigate all suicides, reported that job-related problems were the leading cause of suicides among expatriates.

Their investigations showed that some of the major job problems included low pay, failure to support family at home and work stress.

"The rate of suicides among Indian workers is escalating as a result of employment problems and inability to support family back home," said Colonel Yusuf Al Qahtani, a spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Interior in the Eastern Province.

Indian worker and father of five Karim Habibullah, 48, recently committed suicide by hanging himself. After investigating the case, police reported that he couldn't afford to keep his family in India happy and he gave in.

"Police coroners meticulously investigate suicide; they talk to people who know the victim, inspect the evidence of the suicide, and most importantly, establish the reasons why the victim committed suicide. Only after these major procedures are completed will the police coroners attest to the suicide," Al Qahtani said.

He said that delays in concluding suicide cases sometimes occurred because police were unable to establish the identity of the sponsor, especially if the victim came to the kingdom by purchasing his visa.

"Sometimes relatives of the victims are located in far-flung villages where there are no means of communications," he said.

Expatriates accounted for 77% of suicides in the kingdom in 2006, according to the figures.

Indians led the statistics with 203 suicides, followed by 155 Bangladeshis, 141 Pakistanis, 102 Yemenis and 97 Egyptians, according to the ministry and media reports.

He said that delays in concluding suicide cases sometimes occurred because police were unable to establish the identity of the sponsor, especially if the victim came to the kingdom by purchasing his visa.

"Sometimes relatives of the victims are located in far-flung villages where there are no means of communications," he added.

Habibullah was from Kerala, the South of India. He came to Saudi Arabia five years ago and was working as painter and tile applicator on the construction sites. He had four children and his wife recently gave birth to a fifth.

Suicide cases among foreign workers in Saudi Arabia are increasing, with Indians accounting for more than 40% of the incidents, the Saudi health ministry said.

Expatriates accounted for 77% of suicides in the Kingdom in 2006. Indians led the number of workers with 203, followed by Bangladeshis (155), Pakistanis (141), Yemenis (102) and Egyptians (97), according to the health ministry and Saudi media reports.

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