Suicide a major concern as Namibia loses 623 lives to suicide in 10 months

Namibia lost 623 lives to suicide between August 2022 and June 2023, with 511 of these individuals being men, accounting for 82 per cent of the total.

This was revealed by Minister of Health and Social Service, Kalumbi Shangula during the commemoration of World Suicide Prevention Day here on Monday, themed ‘Creating Hope Through Action.’

Shangula said amongst the suicides, 3.2 per cent were youth. He said the suicide rate stands at 21 per 100 000 population, with the highest number of suicides experienced in the Omusati, Oshikoto and Hardap regions.

“These numbers confirm that suicide is a major public health concern in Namibia and must serve as a call to action to prevent further incidences of suicide,” the minister said.

The ministry, he noted, has established a National Suicide Prevention and Treatment Action Group with a multi-sectoral approach aimed at ensuring collaboration between service providers in the prevention and treatment of suicide as well as developing guidelines, mobilising resources and implementation of programmes.

He indicated that scientific data has shown that there is an association between suicide and mental disorders, such as depression and alcohol-induced disorders. This includes impulsive actions in moments of crisis when individuals struggle to cope with life stresses such as financial problems, relationship break-ups, or chronic pain and illness.

Shangula further noted that the suicide rate is also high amongst those dealing with substance abuse, chronic health issues, persistent pain or physical disability, feelings of isolation or helplessness and negative life events, and vulnerable groups who experience discrimination, such as refugees, migrants and prisoners.

“A crucial part of suicide prevention is addressing the stigma associated with mental disorders that in turn trigger suicide. Often, such individuals do not seek help out of fear of being judged, stigmatised, or being labelled, especially with respect to men. Talking about and admitting to suicide ideation is perceived as a sign of weakness,” he indicated.

Shangula also said the prevention of suicide has not been adequately addressed due to a lack of awareness of suicide as a major public health concern and the taboo in many societies to openly discuss it.

Raising community awareness and breaking down the taboo is important for Namibia to make progress in preventing suicide, the minister concluded.

Source: Namibia Press Agency