The Ministry of Health and Social Services in Omaheke, through its Social Welfare Department, hosted the Suicide Prevention and Treatment Day in Gobabis on 16 September 2022.
This year, the day, which is annually remembered on 10 September worldwide, was commemorated under the theme ‘Creating Hope Through Action’.
Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have long-lasting effects on individuals, families and in communities.
Recent statistics show that Namibia had 779 people take their lives between January 2021 and July 2022.
Out of that number, 643 are male adults, while 106 are female adults who ended their lives.
During the same period, 18 male juveniles and 12 female juveniles died by suicide.
In her welcoming speech, mayor of Gobabis Elvire Theron reminded the audience that suicide is preventable through various means, such as strengthening economic support, strengthening access and delivery of suicidal thoughts and creating protective environments.
The mayor said it is important to be each other’s keepers because at times lives are lost merely because people have no one to talk to, “but if we can be friends with those going through struggles, we can actually save lives”.
She reminded all those who may have suicidal thoughts that they are not alone, and they must know there is somebody out there caring for them.
“I want to encourage especially young people that if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, this is the day you should think that you might be the next president, the next mayor and the next author, so taking your life is not worth it, said Theron.
She further said there is a need for the region to secure a full-time psychologist who will attend to major issues affecting the community.
It is estimated that about 703 000 people take their lives around the world yearly, and many are making suicide attempts.
This was revealed by the regional director of the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Jeremia Shikulo, while giving an overview of the day.
Shikulo said the day focuses on the issue of suicide, reduces stigma and raises awareness among organisations, governments and the public by giving the message that suicide can be prevented.
He said awareness and stigma reduction around suicide encourage well-informed decisions that can lead to reduced instances of suicide around the world and in local communities.
Mental health continues not only to affect families and society at large, but it claims precious lives that could be saved when there has been a timely diagnosis.
Mental health encompasses the emotional, psychological and social well-being of an individual.
On his part, Omaheke governor Pijoo Nganate said the issue of suicide needs a holistic approach from all sectors to advance the objective of the day, which is to raise awareness about suicide prevention in society.
Nganate says suicide and suicide attempts can be linked to many aspects of life, such as a job or financial losses, as well as mental and substance abuse – and it does not only affect the individual but families, the community and society at large.
He calls for positive and informative messaging aimed at the general population at risk, especially the young people, and facilitating open discussions on mental health at home, schools, workplaces and other social settings.
Nganate reiterated the call to those with suicidal thoughts to seek help from social workers, psychologists, pastors, school counsellors and others.
The World Suicide Prevention and Treatment Day was established by the International Association of Suicide Prevention in conjunction with the World Health Organisation in 2003.