The Suicide Observatory in Egypt (2017-2011)

This report documents 1746  suicidal incident in Egypt during the period from 2011 to 2017. n terms of incidents, 2017 had the largest number of incidents with a total of 422 incident, followed by 2015 which had a number of 295, 2011 had the least number of incidents with a total of 152, this number assumed to be  due to either outdated information or because most of information sources were busy with covering the January 25th uprising which supposed to affect other news coverage, including suicidal incidents. This research, also, covered the incidents of suicidal attempts, which amounted 283 incidents, except in some cases will be listed and explained in the research methodology below.


According to the geographic track of this observatory,  Giza governorate had the highest number of incidents with a total of 334 incidents, of which 39 were suicidal attempts, followed by Cairo governorate with a total of 230 incidents, of which 53 were suicidal attempts in the number of incidents, South and North Sinai provinces had 5 incidents in each province, including two suicidal attempts in  South Sinai province and one suicidal attempt in North Sinai province


The observatory distributed suicidal incidents based on both age and gender categories, accordingly, males were more inclined to commit suicide with a total of 1245 incident while females total incidents were 501 located. adults had the largest proportion of committing suicide with total of 1031 incident (of which 140 were suicidal attempts), followed by adolescent with total of 279 incidents (including 47 suicidal attempts),  and then the elders with a total of 33 incidents (3 of which were suicidal attempts), and other 403 incidents (93 cases of suicidal attempts) there was no age information provided.


The observatory also pointed out that the student category was the largest category tends to suicide with a total of 287 incident, followed by housewives with a total of 219 incident, followed by workers with a total of 187 incident, while fugitives  with pending issues “high-risk offenders” were the least with a total of 12 incident, followed by detained and farmers with a total of 36 incidents for each.


As for the suicidal methods used, hanging was the most used method with a total of 650 incidents, jumping from a high place a total of 311 incidents, followed by the ingestion of toxic substances with a total of 183 incidents, and then suicide by a firearm with a total of 158 incidents.


The causes of suicide were  mostly family-related issues with a total of  489 incidents (81 cases of attempting suicide), followed by illness issues with  a total of 321 incidents (20 cases of attempting suicide), followed by financial issues with a total of 255 (including 42 suicidal attempts), while Profession related issues were the lowest with 32 ( including 20 were suicidal attempts), followed by emotional issues with a total of 85 incidents (14 of them were  suicidal attempts). followed by educational difficulties with a total of 89 incidents ( 26 were suicidal attempts).


The distribution of suicides in Egypt according to the method of suicide related to age group. For elders, jumping from a high place is most frequently used with a total of 9 facts, followed by hanging with a total of 8 facts, followed by firearms with a total of 5 facts. For adults, the most widely used means was hanging with a total of 406, followed by jumping from a high place with a total of 182 incidents, followed by toxic swallowing substances with a total of 102 incidents. For the minors, the most common method was hanging with a total of 117, followed by swallowing toxic substances 51 incident, followed by jumping from a high place with a total of 34 incident.


The Observatory explained the distribution of suicides in Egypt according to the method of suicide and gender,report shows that males were mostly used hanging to suicide, with 562 incidents, followed by jumping from a high place with a total of 170 incidents, while females were more likely to jump from a high place with a total of 141 incidents, followed by swallowing toxic for 104 incidents.


As for the location of the incident during the observatory timeframe, private property was the most frequently used for the total of 1174 incidents, followed by public property with a total of 220, followed by watercourse with total of 114 incidents.


The report  shows a statistical path for suicide incidents according to suicide method and job category, hanging was  commonly used mean among most of professions included in this report, students came on top with a total of 114 incidents, followed by workers with 88 incidents, the unemployed category had 66 incidents, the category “others” had 49 incidents, craftsmen had 68 in total, freelancers 28 incidents, armed forces members 11 incidents, farmers 19 incidents, and detainees had a total of 23 incidents, while the method of jumping from a high place is the most used by housewives with a total of 64 incidents, and for the category of high-risk offenders firearms had the highest rate as a suicide mean with a total of 4 incidents.  


Information gathering and credibility of informational mechanisms

  1. Research project was carried out in 2016 and was limited to the first half of 2015. Six researchers (including 4 volunteers were trained through a workshop prepared by the Sociodeta team to create cadres able to build and analyze large databases) developed and updated to targeted period (2017: 2011).
  2. Information gathering phase was completed and introduced in approximately three months (August, September, December 2017).
  3. Research was limited to office machines, relying solely on digital search without field research.
  4. Category and type of incidents the research aims to monitor were determined according to some initial criteria from researcher’s perception, taking into consideration some of the criteria followed by researcher who started work on this research in 2016.


Type of sources and credibility of information building


First: sources of information

Secondary as a context of sociology and primary as a context of history and archival, decentralized, dependent on local media of decentralized nature spread in the governorates, which rely heavily on the data of official bodies, daily and periodic, which is reliable in their data and literal transmission. This file contains information based on facts (action, dimensions, time, geography, actor, and data) rather than information based on narratives (how the incident occurred and the story of each person). this version of the information was limited to these sources.


Second: Methodology of data collection and stages of dealing with it

Based on the known social science methodology of Data Triangulation and Data Authentication, we build a large multi-source synaptic information pyramid to install each corner of its pillars. Information is checked at different stages of comparison and evaluation, taking into account the limitations, context, bias, exaggeration, lack or over-information. thus most of the cases mentioned in the database, have more than one source of information and the sources are all described in details and transparently in front of each case. during dealing with data we go through several stages, the first stage is understanding the context and nature of the data and source of information, then the stage of the dismantling of the information content and splitting it into elements (variable), Followed by building classifications of data stage, fill information gaps for any of variables to rebuild levels of information sources stage, stage of building metadata basic variables, then the conclusion phase of the information that is not available at 100% accuracy, and hypotheses stage Assumptions by the accuracy not less than 90% and according to Academic standards.


Third: Classification of sources

The resources were classified into two types, official resource which is about the facts transferred from official sources of the state, amounted to 1657 incident, and the second press resource which facts monitored directly from the press bodies either according to Those involved in the incidents or through media/press coverage of the incident which reached 89 incidents.


Fourth: Methods and tools for information monitoring

  • The information was monitored using the words “Suicide, Suicide Attempt,” every single word, day by day, via Al-Masry Al-Youm website, the seventh day, the Al-Ahram portal, and then the same words were used on the Google website. Each word separately, week by week, that phase lasted nearly a month and a half.
  • Excel Sheet was used as a means of entering information during the information gathering, input and analysis phase.
  • The researcher used the Win32Pad program as an assistant to transfer text without formatting. in case of copying or transferring data from an excel sheet to another file, the software helps to preserve the space between the cells, making it easy to copy or move.
  • There are tools to help the researcher while using the browser, such as Adblock to block ads, reading mode, tab suspender, and some CSS customizations, to remove any distractions on the source page and focus on the text only, which speed up monitoring and input process.
  • After the completion of the information gathering and introduction stage, the stage of cleaning up the information and adding metadata / descriptive data according to the final scenario concluded after the completion of these stages.
  • A plan for the statistical and data system was prepared and implemented in a two-day period.
  • The methodology, standards, and conceptual framework were written in just two days.


Monitoring map and conceptual framework


First: Incidents facts

This segment is defined as a chronological and geographical as well as descriptive definition and it includes the following:

  1. Date: The date of the occurrence of incident according to available information. In the absence of such information, incident shall be recorded at the date of publication.
  2. Governorate: is the province where the suicide occurred, and included all the provinces of the Republic.
  3. Department: The police station of area in which the act of suicide is carried out according to available information. In some cases, the police department was identified without numbers because the data were not available, for example Zagazig first police station, Zagazig second police station.
  4. Region of the incident: The governorates were divided into geographical regions as follows:
    • Central Governorates (Cairo, Giza, Alexandria).
    • The governorates of Delta (Qalyubia, Dakahlia, Sharqia, Gharbia, Monufia, Beheira, Kafr El Sheikh, Damietta).
    • Canal cities (Port Said, Ismailia, Suez).
    • Upper Egypt (Faiyum, Beni Suef, Minya, Asyut, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan).
    • Border governorates (North Sinai, South Sinai, Matrouh, Red Sea, New Valley).
  5. Place of incident type:
    • Private property: carried out in or around a place owned by the suicidal state.
    • Third-party property: carried out in or around private places of other persons not connected to the case of suicide.
    • Public property: It is carried out inside or around public places and facilities and state property.
    • Workplace: Through the headquarters or a profession or employment places.
    • Watercourse: Each case of suicide is drowning in a sea, a river or a canal directly.
    • Under Train Wheels: Carried out at train stations or on rails between terminals.
    • Under subway wheels: Carried out in metro stations or on rails between stations.
    • Inside a place of detention: It is carried out in places of detention according to the available narratives.
  6. Type of incident
    • Suicide: It is the intentional disposal of life for any reason that ends with the death of person.
    • Attempted suicide: initiate deliberate and engage in an act to get rid of life for any reason without using it to threat to reach any goal, which ends with an external intervention which saves the person, or his failure to commit suicide.
  7. Suicidal methods
    • Collision with a solid object: where type and location of incident are incorporated, whether suicide is under a train or under the subway.
    • Ingestion of insecticides: rat poison, anti-mites tablets, and wheat keeping pills.
    • Swallowing toxic substances: Overuse of medical drugs.
    • Hanging
    • Jump out of a high place.
    • Drowning
    • By a firearm.
    • By a cold (white) weapon.
    • Firing own body.
    • Electric shock.
    • Not available: Suicide means is not specified by available sources.
  8. Suicide  reasons data
    • Family: In case one of his or her family is at risk of injury, death, family or marital disputes.
    • Security reasons: Due to a sentence of imprisonment or suicide in a place of detention, and escape from danger
    • Educational: Due t academic failure or on a study background in general.
    • Emotional: Due t emotional crises before marriage.
    • Illness: Due to mental illness and physical illness and also infertility.
    • Financial: Due to financial crisis or unemployment.
    • Psychological: Temporary psychological crises with no cause determined.
    • Profession-related: Includes any problem in the workplace.
    • Unavailable: If the direct cause of the suicide is not identified.

Second: Person data

Age group

  • Elder: This category included ages from 61 to 93 years.
  • Adult: This category included ages from 19 to 60 years.
  • Minor: This category included ages 9 to 18 years.
  • Not available: marked with a “0” indicating that information is not available.

Professional status           

  •  Student: a student at all educational levels
  • Worker: worker in any profession or workplace in all categories, except craftsmen, farms and self-employed.
  • Farmers: farmers and whose is related to them.
  • Craftsman: craftsman, such as a blacksmith, a carpenter, a barber, and a driver.
  • Freelance: who manages his or her own business alone or through partnership.
  • Housewives: registered according to the media or official bodies.
  • Regular forces: army or police personnel.
  • Detainee: Persons held in custody, regardless of their basic occupation or profession, since they are considered according to the new environment surrounding them, the place of detention.
  • High-risk offenders: persons who are fugitives on trial, or are registered as dangerous and are not required to file cases.
  • Other: employee in government institutions or office work, and other professions or jobs other than the above, such as engineer, doctor, teacher, and lawyer.
  • Without work: who do not have a fixed occupation, who are described as unemployed according to available sources.
  • Unavailable: They are not identified by profession or function according to available sources.

Third:  Data sources

Contains source information (source text, source link) and categorization (official source, press source).

Fourth: Standards of Incident inclusion

  1. The monitoring timeline started from 1 January 2011 until 31 December 2017 and was statistically divided according to the annual scale. The date included is the date of the incident according to available information.
  2. The geographical track included all governorates of Egypt.
  3. The monitoring included events that occurred only in Egypt.
  4. In some cases the police department was identified without its number because the data were not available, for example, “Zagazig police station first, Zagazig police station second”
  5. Threat of suicide has not been included, because they are in a different context and circumstances.
  6. The inclusion of “unavailable” or “0” does not necessarily mean that there are no cases at a particular time and place, but means that no information is available according to the information collection mechanism and methodology.
  7. The file is primarily intended to draw detailed patterns and context of the incidents, their data, and elements, and may not fully reflect the total cases on realty according to the same criteria.
  8. The principles of “non-violation of privacy” and “non-harming” have been respected and a Daftar Ahwal is not responsible for the professional extent of what is published through the media referred to. Some links are deleted or may be deleted or changed later due to time limitation, change of links, or closure of platforms and media outlets.


Cases not listed in this report :

  1. Suicide of a child in Dakahlia, on April 8, where – according to his father’s story – he hanged himself as mimicry of a Spider-Man, not to commit suicide.
  2. Suicide of a girl in the Ain-shams, on June 8, where, according to her father’s story, she hanged herself while playing with a scarf , not to commit suicide.
  3. Suicide of a citizen from Mezallat bridge, on May 13, where incident is uncertain and not enough information available.
  4. A terrorist suicide in northern Sinai, on June 20, where there is not enough information about incident.


Challenges and problems related to the monitoring process

  1. The duration of the completion of the research has taken more than the proposed time in the beginning.
  2. The inability to obtain more accurate and comprehensive information of what actually happens as a result of the poverty of digital resources and the lack of coverage of incidents more accurately than what is actually published.
  3. Google search engine algorithms may ignore some of the results of the search process, especially with the limitations of time, so it is not advisable to use it alone in the search for the incidents.
  4. Government sources did not provide accurate and archived information on the subject of the research.
  5. The stage of collecting and entering information may lead to a state of boredom because it is a very routine stage.
  6. The observatory pointed out that the year 2017 had the highest number of incidents with a total of 422, while the number of incidents in 2014,2015,2016, this can be due either to information obsolescence or due to the interest of the informational sources on which the report relied on covering the January revolution, which affected the coverage of other facts, including the incidents of suicide.
  7. Research topic “suicide”, is one the oversensitive issues in Egyptian society, so in many cases, evidence is hidden, and they record the incident of suicide / attempted suicide, as accidents, not suicide.