“Reda's Smile” association carries out activities to prevent youth suicide in Morocco
The “Reda’s Smile” association in Morocco has launched campaigns to prevent youth suicide.
Morocco- The “Reda’s Smile” association aims to prevent youth suicide in Morocco by carrying out awareness-raising activities. The association provides psychological support to young people thinking of committing suicide and launches campaigns to help the young people in order to overcome challenges driving them into suicide. We interviewed Meryeme Bouzidi Laraki, the president of the Reda’s Smile Association, about the activities and campaigns of the association.
Could you give information about the “Reda’s Smile” association?
The “Reda’s Smile” association carries out activities for the young people thinking of committing suicide. My son Reda killed himself when he was 13 years old. The association was founded to understand why young people commit suicide and support them to prevent youth suicide in Morocco. The association made us aware that suffering can be in gloomy silence and the end can be tragic for young people. Many young people have difficulty in understanding and expressing the problems faced by them. They think no one can understand them or realizes the enormity of their problems, which leads them to isolate themselves. And these cause more young people to commit suicide. The association was founded to understand the young people and support them in order to overcome their fears.
The association works to spread the culture of life and fight suicide, how does it seek to do so and by what means?
Through awareness-raising campaigns, we try to get children and youth out of the dark circle they are in. Firstly, we listen to them and try to understand them. We try to show the ways and methods to young people to overcome the problems faced by them. Children and young people need a space to express their thoughts and feelings. We have created a space for them to express their thoughts and feelings.
Free chat service
We go to schools and hold workshops to facilitate communication between teachers and students, and to teach them mechanisms to provide assistance to young men and women, and how they can act when they encounter people thinking of committing suicide. We launched a free chat service, which is the first in the Arab countries, to provide immediate support to young people and help them to express their problems and thus find appropriate solutions. We have a listening staff between the ages of 25 and 60. Our team members took training courses in order to acquire the ability to listen well and receive deep training in accordance with international standards.
What are the main reasons that lead young people to think of suicide?
Some believe that there is only one reason that leads young people to suicide but we must know that there are several mixed factors that can lead a person to commit suicide. For instance, if a young person lives in a troubled family environment, suffers from economic difficulties or goes through a painful experience such as: the death of a very close person, that person may commit suicide to get rid of all the problems.
How do the campaigns of "Reda's Smile" contribute to breaking the wall of silence around the phenomenon of suicide and opening the way for youth groups to express their problems?
When the Reda’s Smile Association was founded, we did not mention suicide directly, but in our campaigns, we focused on the violence that people used against themselves. Since suicide is violence used by a person against himself/herself, we mentioned the silence against this phenomenon. Over years, we began to mention the phenomenon of suicide among young people. In 2018, our association held workshops in cooperation of the Ministry of Health and a number of partners in order to raise awareness about the suicide among young people and break silence against this phenomenon.
What is your message to young people who are thinking of committing suicide?
What we should know is that many people think to commit suicide once in their life. But this doesn’t mean that they will commit suicide. This means that these people need support and help. They should know that they can ask for help from people they trust or the associations that provide support to them. Young people should know that they are not alone and that there are people who are ready to listen to them.