By Gresham Ngwira:
Not a single day goes by without the country recording a suicide related death. In fact, a World Health Organisation (WHO) report released in 2019 indicates that on a global scale, one person dies from suicide every 40 seconds; translating to about 788,923 people per year worldwide.
Here at home, Kasungu District had by August 2020 recorded 23 suicide cases, with nine being recorded in that month alone.
Kasungu Police Public Relations Officer, Harry Namwaza, observed that most of the victims in the cases recorded were male.
For example, on September 13 this year, 35 – year old man committed suicide for reasons which had not yet been established.
“He was working as a Health Surveillance Assistant at Kaluma Health Centre and hang himself right in his house,” Namwaza said.
It was however alleged in social media circles that the man had ended his life after discovering that his girlfriend was HIV positive.
In the same month of September, a 19 – year – old boy also committed suicide at Chileka in Blantyre District. Chileka Police deputy spokesperson, Yvonne Kalampa, identified the deceased as Gift Willie of Lisangwi village, Traditional Authority Kunthembwe in the district.
“Willie was operating a business in Zomba and on September 6, he visited his parents at his home. On September 7, he gave his parents K50, 000 before being found hanging in a tree which is in a forest within the village,” she said.
The deceased was found with K110, 000 cash but no suicide note. Kalampa urged people to seek help whenever they are confronted with problems.
“People should channel their grievances to Victim Support Unit and traditional authorities for counselling,” she advised.
In Mchinji District, five suicide cases were registered from January to June this year, which is slightly higher when compared to the four cases registered last year during the same period. Mchinji Police Public Relations Officer, Kondwani Kandiado confirmed the development.
According to the WHO report, the most common methods of suicide are hanging, pesticide self-poisoning, and firearms. It says key interventions that have shown success in reducing suicides are restricting access to means; educating the media on responsible reporting of suicide; implementing programmes among young people to build life skills that enable them to cope with life stresses; and early identification, management and follow-up of people at risk of suicide.
Suicide is happening despite the increasing number of countries with national suicide prevention strategies.
“Every death is a tragedy for family, friends and colleagues…We call on all countries to incorporate proven suicide prevention strategies into national health and education programmes in a sustainable way.” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said in the report, observing that suicides are preventable.
Psychologist Ndumanene Devlin Silungwe believes that investing in the wellness of the citizenry that promotes positive lifestyle can reduce citizen stress.
“Investing in the wellness of the citizen through programmes that promote positive lifestyle can reduce citizen stress. Chances are that the pace of life is becoming too fast, placing too much demands on people, rewarding certain human traits and leaving others behind,” Silungwe said.
He added that the phenomenon could also come from a broken economy where equal opportunities do not seem to exist. Silungwe therefore called for systems that give people hope for a better life.
“We need to have systems that give people hope for a better life. We need to put in place measures that prevent poor people from being taken advantage of and curb the use of alcohol and drug abuse,” he said.
For those that feel like giving up on life, Silungwe advises them to see someone they confide in.
He said such people can also seek professional help from a mental health psychosocial support expert.
“There is always a way out of a problem even when it means facing a little embarrassment, taking up some responsibility for a bad decision, or feeling abused. They can also seek professional help from a mental health psychosocial support expert,” Silungwe said.
On why it generally seems that a lot of men are involved in suicide than women, the psychologist was quick to point out that in fact, women attempt suicide more often than men but that are discovered before they die.
In his view, men account for account for more numbers as they are much more successful in suicide because of their lethal methods. Additionally, Silungwe said males are less likely to disclose or confide in others about it, than women or females.
“Other schools of thought believe that other than the cases rising, it is actually the publicity about it that has risen. The media is covering about it more than before, including the coming in of social media,” he said.
He cited the coming in of social media as also having increased publicity.
According to the psychologist, since currently suicide is being accepted more that it is a mental health issue; people are much open to share about it. He said apart from being associated with poor judgment due to disagreements while drunk, suicide is also associated with poor resilient or coping mechanism when confronted with a life issue such as debts, crime, pregnancy and a chronic disease among others.
It is a fact that many people are committing suicide for various reasons and there is indeed a need for finding ways of stopping the phenomenon. This is everyone’s responsibility. If not tamed, suicide has the capacity to eat out the country’s fabric including human resource