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Survivors of the Beirut Explosion and Permanent Psychological Scars.

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

WHAT- The Facts

On August 4th, 2020, a grave industrial accident at the port caused one of the biggest ever explosions, shattering Beirut, Lebanon, a city that was already at a tipping point. The cloud of smoke and the seismic force has left citizens of Lebanon in lifelong physical and mental distress. The explosion, killing 218 people and injuring more than 7,000, devastated much of the city. The Lebanese investigation into the blast has yielded no credible results. Families of the victims, some of whom are calling for an international investigation- their search for justice, however, unfathomable.

The explosion ravaged several of its homes and businesses were forced to close. A moment of reckoning changed the country's future dramatically, ruining people’s homes, terminating jobs, and ruining the lives of thousands of Lebanese citizens. Saudi Arabia and Syria were central figures in Lebanon’s reconstruction. The two countries set up patronage networks and spheres of influence in Lebanon’s affairs.

The explosion’s devastating effects however, remain one of the number of things that the country has to endure, including a devastating economy. The mental health impact of the Beirut explosion continues to lay its heavy weight on those who managed to survive the day. “I lost my life on August 4,” Dagher said. “I lost my house, I lost my memory, I lost two friends,” she added. “I lost my mental health, and so I lost everything.”


INTRODUCTION- The Invisible Impacts of the Explosion

Even months after the Beirut Explosion on August 4th, 2020, the effects of the explosion remain undiscussed and less known compared to the physical suffering that Lebanese citizens have experienced. However, multiple reports on the impact of the explosion have outlined and described the details in which survivors of the explosion have reported nightmares, flashbacks and fatigue, as well as increased need for mental health consultations.

Days following the explosion in Beirut, there were multiple reports of increased prevalence of depression, anxiety, as well as higher rates of suicide. The number of calls to suicide hotlines in Lebanon increased dramatically- much of which was attributed by the explosion that occurred in Beirut.


ELDERLY CITIZENS- Impacts

Most importantly, the explosion also revived previous traumas experienced by older generations and elderly citizens in Lebanon who suffered from multiple wars, displacement, and most recently, increased violence and civil unrest during mass

anti-government demonstrations.

FRONTLINE WORKERS- Impacts

Particularly impacted were healthcare workers and other frontline workers. Unprepared for the aftermath of the explosion and already overwhelmed with the sharp rise of Covid-19 cases, healthcare workers who were extremely devastated by the explosion.




 

By Saab, Lea February 20, 2021

Vice President of Aid Lebanon Inc.

President of Helping Hearts

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