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Missionaries in Algeria Develop Tool to Address Increased Suicide Among Young People

The logo of Agostiniani nel Mondo Foundation that is working in 50 countries in the world.

Augustinian Missionaries ministering in Algeria are running psychological and social programs in centers across the vast Northern African country to address the rising cases of depression and suicide among young people in the country.

An official at Agostiniani nel Mondo Foundation, a non-profit organization for the missionaries of St. Augustine that operates in more than fifty countries in support of the poor and neediest, told Agenzia Fides that most suicide cases in Algeria involve the youth. 

According to Maurizio Mistiano, the organization which has been working in the country for years has turned its focus to young people in the country to restore their hope for a better future.

“The goal of our missionary project in Algeria is to create a psychological and social assistance program for young Algerians, structured in listening centers managed by professionals, associations and volunteers, with the aim of countering the worrying increase in cases of suicide,” Mistiano told Agenzia Fides in a Saturday, April 10 report.

Agostiniani nel Mondo Foundation, the organization’s international projects and fundraising official said, is aimed to provide “a definitive response to difficulties and uncertainty and to recover a look of hope towards the future.”

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In the report, Mistiano says that the Augustinian members have been present in Algeria “practically since their birth” alluding to St. Augustine who was born in Tagaste in 354 AD.

According to the Agenzia Fides report, the Augustinian Friars decided not to leave Algeria during the terrible years of terrorism in the nineties, despite the danger of being killed.

The Friars, Agenzia Fides reports, kept their presence alive thanks to a program of intercultural dialogue promoted within the Basilica of Hippo in Algeria’s Diocese of Constantine.

Today, Mistiano says in the April 10 Agenzia Fides report, “thanks also to the constant search for dialogue with Muslim religion representatives, other small social programs have been able to start, in favor of young people, the elderly and migrants.”

He says that though there has been remarkable growth in Algeria’s economy, a quarter of the population still lives below the poverty line.

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According to the official of the Missionary-run charity organization, there is social insecurity and injustice and the unemployment rate of young people remains high.

Mistiano says that in every three young people, one does not have a job, a situation he says is contributing to the depression among this young population.

Most of the young people lacking jobs in Algeria are those with high qualifications including university degrees, he says.

The lack of employment, Mistiano says, “generates a sense of frustration, alienation and a loss of confidence in the future that leads many young people to choose to take their own lives.”

He adds, “In the North African country, the suicide rate is constantly increasing and is reaching alarming dimensions.”

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“Every day at least three people take their own lives and the phenomenon mainly affects young people between the ages of 15 and 24,” Mistiano tells Agenzia Fides, adding that suicide is treated as a taboo in Algeria, making it a difficult topic to address.

Agostiniani nel Mondo Foundation intends to constitute itself as a methodological model that can also be replicated by other humanitarian organizations, Mistiano says.

The organization has developed an assistance program that aims to guarantee support and prevention of suicide through the creation of five centers in the cities of Algiers, Boumerdès, and Annaba where those in distress can call in and receive psychological and emotional help.

It has also established a telephone line from which qualified operators can answer people who cannot physically go to the centers.