Egyptian psychologist suggests putting 'venting' kiosks in Cairo metro to combat suicide attempts

Ayat Al Tawy, Thursday 6 Sep 2018

File photo: Cairo underground metro
File photo: Cairo underground metro's third line (Al-Ahram)

An Egyptian psychologist has suggested setting up psychological advice kiosks at Cairo metro stations, as a measure to combat the rising number of suicide attempts in the subway system.

On Wednesday, a teenage girl threw herself in front of an oncoming underground train in Cairo's Ezbet El-Nakhl station, the latest in a series of suicide incidents on the subway system in recent months. The young women survived but suffered several injuries, according to a metro spokesman.

Psychologist Ibrahim Magdy recommended on Wednesday that authorities set up a "venting kiosk" in a major metro station where specialists can provide psychological counselling to help dissuade people from committing suicide.

Speaking to Al-Nahar satellite TV channel, he said that the proposed service, which he expected would draw ridicule, could help vulnerable people among the four million daily commuters "find someone to listen to [them] and someone to talk to."

Magdy said the service could also be an office for handling citizens' complaints and grievances, especially those from government bodies or officials.

This is not the first time the idea of special metro booths has surfaced.

Last year, Islamic authority Al-Azhar opened a fatwa kiosk in the Cairo metro to offer religious advice to commuters, in what it said was an effort to counter extremism. The move received a flurry of criticism from secularists at the time who argued the subway was not the appropriate place for religious discourse.

The booth in Shohadaa subway station, one of Cairo's busiest underground stations, closed around two months later after the contract with an Islamic religious authority running it ended.

At least seven people attempted to commit suicide in the Cairo metro over the past four months, five of whom died.

Earlier this week, a 41-year-old man jumped in front of a moving subway train at the downtown Cairo station of Gamal Abdel-Nasser. The man survived but had one of his legs amputated.

Metro spokesman Ahmed Abdeh Hady has said the metro system incurs substantial losses after each suicide incident, apparently due to delays in the service, and that the network has mounted surveillance at platforms across all stations.


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