Written by: Dr. Rwanda Gaffaz, Al-Razy Psychiatric Hospital

Edited by: Dr. Raid Gaffaz

Usama Khalifa Elkekly, a 6th grader born on Feb. 18th, 2008, hanged himself on the afternoon of Monday, December 16th, 2019, with the aid of his younger brother, right on the roof of their house in Ghoat Asha’al, Tripoli.

“Usama is a very active boy, he is a member of the local Boys Scouts Team”, said Salma Ali, the social worker at Usama’s school, Zahrat Almada’en.  “He is a polite and very friendly young man; we were all very astonished by the terrible news”.

Usama repeatedly told his teachers that he was not going to attend his first term exams (which started Sunday, December 22nd, 2019), but no one paid attention to those comments.

Usama attended classes normally Monday morning.  His parents were getting ready to go to a neighbour’s funeral at around 3:30 p.m., just moments before leaving the house; they heard their daughter yelling on top of the roof, who coincidentally went up to finish the laundry.  They ran up, and there hung their son helplessly, only a few centimetres above the counter where he climbed, and his little brother too short to support or lift him.

“He had scratch marks all over his face and neck, his tongue dark blue, and urinated on himself! My dad quickly cut the rope with this knife and rushed him to the hospital, but it was too late,” his older sister Amena explained.

Usama’s friends all went to his funeral and admitted to their mothers that they all dared each other that morning to try “hanging themselves” like in movies, and feel heroic to defeat death.  Some said they tried belts, some tried fishing ropes, and some even went for their mother’s hijabs (scarves).

Zuhra Elkekly, Usama’s mother, is asking all parents to watch their children for suicidal signs “My son and his brother were re-acting a television scene.  And this is the problem, he likes to try everything he sees, he’s a very adventurous boy and enjoys risking his life, we found him in the water tank last summer where he almost drowned and said he just wanted to cool off from the water because it was too hot”. 

Although the 11-year-old has not been diagnosed with any mental disorders, his mother admits that he enjoys walking on the edge of the roof, constantly tells her that he wants to quit school and join the army to fight with a real gun, and has a wide imagination.

The family also thinks Usama might have been motivated by the death of his older brother’s friend recently, who also hanged himself under dark circumstances in Tripoli, Libya.