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Letter - Let’s talk more about suicide before we report cases

2022-09-09  Staff Reporter

Letter - Let’s talk more about suicide before we report cases

Johanna Hipangelwa

“Suicide mortality rate (per 100 000 population) in Namibia was reported at 9.7% in 2019.” 

We, however, saw a huge rise in the numbers of suicide cases over the past two years, with The Namibian reporting 679 cases within a period of 17 months by July 2022. As salient as the topic is, it is unfortunate that it gets less coverage and only seen pivotal when cases are being reported. 

The question I keep asking is, do we talk about suicide as much as we do with other prevalent death causes like car accidents? 

It is so concerning to have individuals taking their own lives, and inflicting harm unto themselves, and all we do is report the numerous cases committed over the weekend, month or the previous year, and yet this has not convinced people to comfortably bring up this difficult topic of suicide amongst themselves. 

Considering the sensitivity of the matter and the stigma and helplessness associated to suicide, many people are not able to talk about suicide in their personal lives with family or friends. 

At this point, I believe nearly everyone has been affected by a suicide or suicide attempt, hence we need more courageous and empowered people to raise more awareness.

During the beginning of running my Mental Health NGO (Speak Up While You Can), I struggled to understand why clients think of suicide as an option to end their sufferings or predicaments. I was constantly surprised at how long someone can intentionally think of ending their life without making attempts. 

I eventually started having fair shares in what many of my clients end up deciding for themselves, least of which was beyond my control. Like doctors, for better or worse, I have felt helpless when I could not control my client’s final decision.

There is absolutely no doubt that the subject matter is salient, and that immediate action is necessary. I strongly believe that if individuals in their own capacities and government join hands through prioritizing more campaigns, discussions and programmes centred on key problems such as suicide destigmatization and self-harm etc. 

The goal would be for suicide discussion to gain more relevance, especially in the remote areas of the country. Often, we read newspaper articles reporting on someone who has ended their life. We often feel helpless and empathize and then move on. Suppression has become a coping mechanism. 

My point here is basically putting emphasis on suicide discussions at home, in schools, workplaces and in every area of our lives. Thus, allowing an average person to begin the discussion in an open and non-judgemental manner. This will most likely lead to earlier detection of the suicide risk level and other significant mental distresses that may result in suicide, in order to mitigate and find the relevant assistance with the key aim to potentially decrease the chances of people ending their lives. 

2022-09-09  Staff Reporter

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