With life in a war zone too painful to bear, some are longing for death.
Six years of brutal conflict and unspeakable atrocities have left some of Syria’s children desperately wishing for their own deaths, according to a heartbreaking new report from Save the Children. Many are living in a constant state of fear and “toxic stress,” the humanitarian group warns.
The war has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians and displaced more than half the country’s population, with no end to the carnage in sight. Some 13.5 million people in Syria, including 5.8 million children, are currently in need of aid.
At least 3 million children have been born into the conflict, and those who remain in Syria are extremely vulnerable to immense psychological damage, increasing their longterm risks of self-harm, drug abuse and suicide, the report says.
“Invisible Wounds” documents a worsening mental health crisis among boys and girls trapped inside the war-torn country. Save the Children worked with its partners to interview hundreds of civilians to understand the scope of the tragedy, and the findings were devastating.
Many of Syria’s children have seen their families torn apart, and witnessed loved ones suffer and die before their eyes. Two-thirds have been injured or had their homes hit by attacks. More than half are using drugs to help cope with the stress of living in a war zone, and nearly three-quarters have shown signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
If left untreated, these conditions can have irreversible effects on the mental and physical health of an entire generation of children, the report notes.
“The children we spoke with in Syria are terrified to play outside, afraid to go to school, and soiling themselves when they hear a loud noise,” said Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles. “We can end the toxic stress many children are suffering by stopping the bombardment of civilian areas and reaching everyone with lifesaving aid and psychological support.”
Children who were interviewed described persistent feelings of anger, anxiety, depression and terror.
“My parents are not here because I have already lost them,” said one teenager in Aleppo. “I am alone because everyone is dying.”
A teacher in Madaya said children “wish they were hit by a sniper” and killed.
“Children wish they were dead and that they would go to heaven [to] be warm and eat and play,” she said.
Syrian girls and boys have been starved, robbed of their childhoods and deprived of a proper education, the report explains. Thousands of schools have been bombed out of use, and hundreds of thousands of education professionals have fled the country. Some parents fear that sending their kids to school is too dangerous. Almost one-third of school-aged children in the country are not in school.
Alexandra Chen, a child protection and mental health specialist based at Harvard University, warns that the detrimental impacts of the war may outlast the conflict itself.
“Extreme adversity in early childhood can hamper children’s healthy development and their ability to function fully, even once the violence has ceased,” she said. “The slow grind of toxic stress can disrupt the development of the brain and other organs, and increase the risk of stress-related diseases, heart disease, diabetes, immune system problems, substance abuse, depression, and other mental health disorders into adulthood.”
But all is not lost, the report says; Syrian children are “incredibly resilient,” and continue to cling to their hopes and dreams for a better future. They stand to benefit tremendously from psychosocial support, but resources are currently extremely limited.
Save the Children has issued an urgent plea for warring parties to immediately halt all forms of violence against civilians, and for members of the international community to increase funding for programs that support children’s mental health.
To support crisis-afflicted Syrians, see The WorldPost’s list of ways you can help. You can also donate to charities working in Syria.
- In Kansas City, A Mother Fears Her Children Could Be Next
- The Victim Of Populism Is Democracy
- Colombia And Former Rebels Are Trying To Build Peace, One Tent At A Time
- Trump’s New Travel Ban Could Hinder Research On HIV And Mental Health
- Trump Didn't Start The Anti-Iranian Fire
- New York Looks To Teens In Effort To Prevent Domestic Violence
- Trump's Muslim Ban Is Still All About Muslims
- American Muslims Are Stepping Up To Help Jewish Community Defend Sacred Places
- Trump's Order Is Still A Muslim Ban, Faith Groups Say
- How 'Jane The Virgin' Gets Motherhood Right
- Turkey Wants Trump To Change Obama's Policies On Syria And A Failed 2016 Coup
- U.S. force in Syria to help anti-IS fighters with firepower
You might also like
- Democrats Ask DHS To Drop 'Unconscionable' Idea Of Splitting Up Families At Border
- Police Blame Arson For Fire That Killed 22 Girls In Guatemala Shelter
- Asians, Latinos Make Up Majority Of California's Population But Have Least Political Influence
- Donald Trump's Immigration Crackdown Is Silencing Exploited Workers
- Homeland Security Chief Admits He's Considering Splitting Children From Parents At Border
- The Real Goal Of Trump's 'Merit-Based' Immigration Plan May Just Be Fewer Immigrants
- King Kong Is The Ultimate Symbol Of Our Collective Pop-Culture Nostalgia
- Donald Trump And King Kong Have An Odd History Together
- 'Day Without A Woman' Strike Is Closing Schools Around The Country
- Betsy DeVos Meets With Trans Students After Dismantling Their Rights
- Milo Ventimiglia Advises You To Get The Tissues Ready For The 'This Is Us' Finale
- An Evangelical Pastor On Reaching The Religiously Unaffiliated
- Powerful South Carolina political consultant implicated in indictments of a veteran state senator
- Will Donald Trump get a second Supreme Court nomination?
- "Hazing" rituals await Supreme Court's "junior justice" Neil Gorsuch
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Trump approves controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline
- Trump praises 'Fox & Friends,' renews old feuds in early morning tweets
- Rex Tillerson finally answers question from NBC News' Andrea Mitchell
- First Read's Morning Clips: The Latest in the Russia Investigation
- Spicer: 'I've let the president down'
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday
- OMB Diriector Mick Mulvaney: Washington's 'a lot more broken' than Trump thought
- Trump attacks conservatives over failure of health care bill
- A very consequential week didn't go well for President Trump
- Health Care Showdown: Republicans look to go big or go home
- No deal on health care bill after conservatives meet with Trump
- CA gov on those supporting health bill: 'Their name is going to be mud'
- Give it to me straight, doc: Is Obamacare dying?
- First Read's Morning Clips: Waiting for CBO
- 14 People Share What's It's Really Like to Have An Ex Who Is Now Their In-Law
- The Internet Is Freaking Out About The Way This Chef Cuts Pizza
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Israeli prime minister talks of a snap election amid concerns over a new public broadcaster
- U.S. condemns suspected Syrian chemical attack on civilians, but says the Assad government is a 'political reality'
- Canada's largest school board will end class trips to the U.S. due to Trump's travel restrictions
- Warplanes strike Syrian town already hit by chemical attack
- Vigilantes prowl Europe's border with a target: Muslim migrants
- A letter from Britain to the European Union will trigger the 'Brexit' process March 29
- Ukraine president suggests a Kremlin-orchestrated attack after former Russian lawmaker is shot dead in Kiev
- Russian officials say St. Petersburg subway blast killed at least 11 and injured dozens
- As death toll in hospital attack soars to 50, Afghanistan investigates whether it was an inside job
- South Korea's ousted leader moves out of palace, apologizes for 'not fulfilling my duties'
- A brazen political killing shakes Myanmar, already teetering on the path to democracy
- India's Narendra Modi leads his party to victory in a state with more than 200 million people
- A controversial Thai monk is wanted in connection with a fraud case. His followers won't give him up
- Another Dalit suicide on campus raises fears of a crisis of discrimination at Indian universities
- Syrian government insists it does not use chemical weapons; US vows serious response to attack
- Bodies of U.N. workers and interpreter found in Congo, prompting calls for investigation
- Hamas hangs 3 Palestinians in Gaza it says were collaborating with Israel
- Basque group ETA hands over weapons, ammunition and explosives to France
- Syrian ally Iran blasts U.S. missile strikes as 'dangerous, destructive and a violation of international law'