It is hard to make peace with the loss of a loved one by suicide. Many people often feel angry or blame themselves for the suicide, thinking that because they are close, they should’ve seen the signs.
When people contemplate suicide, it is because they see no way out of the dark and difficult situation they are facing and, therefore, think no one can help them. Death is thus the only cure for the pain they are experiencing.
Their internal suffering has become unbearable, so much so that they no longer want to live. While there are numerous factors that trigger suicide, feelings of shame, guilt, self-loathing, rejection, loss, loneliness, trauma and serious illness, among others, have been reported as reasons why many people take their own lives on purpose.
Citing a recent study done locally, health deputy minister Esther Utjiua Muinjangue said a total of 779 suicides have been recorded between January 2021 and July 2022. Out of that number, 643 are male adults, while 106 are female adults. During the same period, 18 male juveniles and 12 female juveniles died by suicide. This translates to about two people who take their own lives daily.
Regional suicide statistics from January 2021 to July 2022 revealed that Omusati had the highest recorded incidents of suicide with 120. Ohangwena had 114 cases of suicide, while Khomas had 92 and Oshikoto 75 incidents.
Data also shows that more males from both the adult and juvenile groups died by suicide, either through shooting or hanging. Many women choose poisoning or hanging as a way to end their life.
And it is not only people who show mental illnesses who commit suicide. In fact, because their mental instability is known, it’s easier to provide assistance through medication. It’s the ones who do not express their mental struggles who usually turn to suicide.
In Namibia, many people are victims of unemployment, leaving them despondent and pressured by the financial challenges they are experiencing daily. And with the cost of basic necessities like food, water and shelter ever increasing, many who are lucky enough to have jobs just can’t make ends meet, resulting in them either turning to alcohol or drugs to ease the tension, or worse, ending his/her life, just to get away from the pain and suffering.
It is a worrying situation indeed, which calls for each and every one of us to pool efforts to help those suffering from mental illnesses to change their pressing social conditions, which they seem unable to navigate on their own.
Pay close attention to those close to you. If they seem off and display unusual behaviour like being withdrawn, don’t wait for them to come to you. But then again, some people have the uncanny ability to hide their internal trauma very well by acting “normal”. Nevertheless, reach out, connect and show that you care, and help them find alternatives to the difficult situations they are facing. Even just linking them to a psychologist with whom they can talk freely will be of great help. Remember, Namibia’s LifeLine/ChildLine telephone counselling service is available 24 hours a day, and can be reached on 106/116 free of charge.
Provide hope, and be honest that it will take time to get better.
Most importantly, be kind because everyone you meet might be fighting a battle you don’t know about.