The COVID-19 crisis is a difficult time – Are expats giving up?

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Bahrain is home to many, many expatriates. Around 650,000 in fact. There are a lot of different communities – Lebanese, Egyptians, Moroccans, Europeans, Americans, Indians, Filipinos, Bangladeshis, Pakistani, contributing to the well-oiled machine that is Bahrain.

The largest expat community is of Indians – more than half of the estimated 650,000 hail from various parts of India. The local Indian community is a thriving segment of the island, with even many national events and fairs taking on Indian themes at times. Holi parties, Onam celebrations, Diwali and many other Indian festivals are celebrated with great pomp year on year.

The problems that torment these expats who call Bahrain home are equally large as their presence on the island. So much so, that they end up taking their own lives. Data reveals that in 2018, 37 incidents of expat suicides were reported, while the number seems to have significantly grown in 2019.

Now, as the world battles with the coronavirus pandemic, four suicides have been reported in Bahrain in just the past two months. All four were middleaged, male Indian expats.

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While their reasons for taking this misstep cannot be singled out, the timeframe in which these have occurred point to the villain currently wrecking all of human life – the coronavirus. The virus has forced many to put their lives on hold. Weddings have been postponed, business deals cancelled, salaries cut down, work trips called off, the list goes on and on.

Since many Indian men are the single breadwinners of their families, the monthly paycheck matters a lot while businessmen may be on the verge where one deal could make or break their business.

*Krishnan, an Indian expat who runs a small tailoring business in Manama said that he’s struggling to pay his loan installments now that demand has almost hit zero. He hopes that the government will consider some sort of relief for expats too for the next 2-3 months as they have nowhere else to turn to.

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Few others we spoke to said that they felt like failures for not being able to support their families at this time while few said that they could not grapple with the uncertainty of when things may return to normal.

Could it be that those who succumbed to suicide were going through similar feelings? We’ll never know for sure. Will we have to report more such cases in the coming days? We hope not.

Gulf Insider implores all reading – suicide is not the solution. While the extent of impact is different for different people, we are all in this together. The entire human race is fighting the disease and we will overcome its repercussions. If you feel alone or depressed, speak to a loved one today.

Don’t forget, there’s a rainbow at the end of every storm.

Suicide helplines: 38415171, 33421660, 36253753, 33882835, 38024189
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