SAT-7 is one of very few voices speaking out about mental health crisis and suicide in the Middle East. As our channels raise awareness, our Audience Relations teams are supporting and counseling viewers in crisis, providing genuine hope when it seems all hope is lost.
I was divorced three years ago. I can’t see my two children and I’ve been depressed for two years. A month ago, I was alone on my birthday. I felt so lonely, and I wanted to end my life, but I decided to watch Homemade one last time. That day the presenter was talking about God’s love and patience. She talked about delivering ourselves to Him and giving Him our pain. Now, I have hope. I am reading the Bible and praying every day, and I believe that one day I will see my children again. Jesus Christ is with me; He is taking care of me. I thank you all – you have been tools for God to do this in my life.”
– Bahar* in Turkey
These words from a female viewer show how the most vulnerable people can be forgotten in Middle Eastern society – and how SAT-7 can be a lifeline for viewers in crisis. Audience Relations (AR) staff at SAT-7’s Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish channels often hear from viewers desperate for help, both with their own mental health crises and for those of family members. When a message is a literal cry for help, a member of the AR counseling team is assigned to contact and support the viewer and, where possible, encourage them to contact a mental health professional in their area.
There is also a need to break down taboos and aid prevention in the Middle East and North Africa, where suicide is seen as shameful and not to be discussed. SAT-7’s channels broadcast programs that offer mental health and spiritual support, as well as others that address the social issues that contribute to mental health crises.
Earlier this month corresponding with World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), SAT-7 ARABIC broadcast a short video to help families recognize early warning signs and guide them through a series of steps to help loved ones in crisis. “For many people, this may be the only awareness message they see,” says Mary Joseph, SAT-7’s Cairo-based Communications Officer. “There is little reporting on suicide as a public health matter in Egypt.”
In the Persian-speaking world, where suicide is a widespread problem, there has been little in the way of prevention or helplines for those in crisis. Meanwhile, the rate of suicide is tragically rising even among children. Since January this year, in Iran’s Kurdish regions alone, 35 children have died by suicide.
But in the stories of our viewers, SAT-7 regularly sees the power of hope in God to save lives.
“I have experienced a great deal of hardship in my life from the time I was a child until the time I was married at a young age,” shares Pari*, a woman from Iran. “Although it was not a good marriage, I stayed with my husband and had four children with him. My husband did not show me any kindness. I was hurt emotionally and physically and four times attempted suicide.
“For the past four years I had no peace and was in turmoil, and then at the age of 65 I became a believer. The Lord Jesus Christ, the living God, worked in me and brought me peace. Because I wanted to know Jesus better, I came to your channel and my heart has been warmed and I have hope.”
An Iranian man, Shadmehr*, also shared his story with SAT-7 PARS. “I have been deeply depressed and have regularly had very dark, suicidal thoughts. One day I happened to start watching your channel. Through your programs I got to know Jesus Christ, and from that day I have felt so much better. Before that day, I had no faith in God or in anything else. But now I want to follow Jesus.”
*Names changed for security reasons.
*If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please seek help.
If you are in immediate danger, please contact your local emergency number (800-273-8255 in the U.S.).
 Radio Farda