AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Security services of the southern Yemeni city of Taiz said that two children committed suicide in two separate events on Saturday, leaving the beleaguered population in shock and despair.
Police in Taiz said in a statement that they were notified of two suicide victims in the city on Saturday evening, citing the deaths as “dangerous precedents.”
Police named the first child as 12-year-old Kareem Abdul Kareem from the Al-Jamhuria neighborhood, who hanged himself inside his room on Saturday afternoon by tying a scarf around his neck.
Ammar Khaled, a 16-year-old who committed suicide on Saturday evening by wrapping a rope around his neck and tying it to a door outside his family’s home, is the second victim.
After forensic investigators gathered photographs and evidence, his family requested his burial on the same day.
Police in Taiz pledged to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the victims and have asked the community and professionals for assistance in determining the reasons behind the suicides.
In a statement, police urged both authorities and members of the public “to collaborate…in order to provide the appropriate answers.”
Mohammed Alawi, an investigator with police in Taiz, told Arab News that a team, including social and psychiatric professionals, was looking into the cases and would release their findings this week.
Initially, Alawi ruled out the possibility of cyberbullying or even sexual harassment and attributed the deaths of the two children to the mobile game PUBG.
“These are risky games, and we advise parents to monitor their children’s mobile devices to see what they are seeing or playing,” Alawi said.
He also touched on other instances of suicide, which he blamed on psychological suffering caused by the war.
“Women and children in Yemen, particularly in besieged Taiz, have suffered emotionally because of the war. We had never seen such crimes before the war,” he said.
On social media, the police statement and photographs of the two deceased children have elicited condolences for the families and calls for an investigation into the motivations behind the suicides and for the protection of children.
“You should investigate with the family about the electronic games they played, such as PUBG, and whether they have Facebook or WhatsApp accounts,” said Adnan Taha on Facebook.
“All communications should be reviewed, since (the children) may be vulnerable to harassment and extortion,” Taha said.
Another social media user, Muneir Al-Qaisi, urged local security agencies not to bury the victims before autopsies are conducted to determine whether they consumed anything poisonous.
“We hope you will not hurry to bury them and (will) examine their bodies,” Al-Qaisi said.
“It is conceivable that the parents are unaware of beverages or meals being shared among the children,” said Al-Qaisi.
Investigator Alawi responded to accusations of a hasty burial by stating that one of the boys was buried at the request of his family and only after investigators examined both the corpse and the scene.
“He was buried after forensic teams examined the scene, photographed it, and performed investigations. Additionally, his relatives requested burial from the prosecution,” Alawi said.