Eight people have committed suicide in Namibia in the past week.
In what was probably the first reported suicide of the year on 1 January 2022 in Windhoek’s Damara location, the lifeless body of a 20-year-old man was found hanging by a rope at the back of his family’s house. Earlier that evening, three other men had also committed suicide as the rest of the world was joyfully celebrating the end of 2021.
On Sunday, the Namibian Police reported that a 35-year-old woman from Walvis Bay hanged herself with a gown’s belt after a quarrel with her husband.
In 2020, Namibia had the fourth-highest suicide rate in Africa and the 11th highest globally.
Around the world, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people aged between 15 and 29.
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate, a death by suicide occurs every 40 seconds globally.
Between January 2019 and August 2020, 32 children under the age of 16 and 752 adults committed suicide.
In January 2019, the nation was shocked when a seven-year-old girl from Walvis Bay committed suicide after her mother left her alone at home and went to church.
In July of that same year, a game that dares children to take their own lives was blamed for the suicide of a 10-year-old boy in Katutura.
He was found hanging from the laundry line behind the family home by his uncle after he and his friends were playing a game called “the momo challenge” during school hours, and later after school.
Cristine Mattie, a community social worker in Oshakati, who is also a professional teacher, said suicides being committed in Namibia are a direct consequence of depression, coupled with socio-economic difficulties, family violence and unrealistic expectations.
“I am appealing to communities and work colleagues to show compassion, understanding and respect to those individuals among us who have mental illnesses and alcohol and drug abuse problems,” she urged.
Defining suicide as a form of self-inflicted violence, Mattie said this problem touches the hearts of many people. As such, Namibians could not ignore or be unworried about the rate at which such incidents are reflected daily in the media.
“There are many ways to raise awareness about suicide such as from person to person, within the community and as a nation, and there are several actions we can take to prevent suicide,” she said.
Mattie also described the suicide rate as scary when one looks at the country’s population.
Most suicides take place during summer and over the holidays.
According to her, it is due to the fact that suicidal people are lonely, and when they see others happy, they wonder as to what life is all about and then resort to suicide.
“They carry the feeling that no one cares about them, and suicide to them is one way in which they can get out of their misery,” she noted.
Evelina Amakali, a social worker in the gender equality ministry, shared her experiences in her personal capacity. She said the signs to look out for in someone who might be considering ending their life include but are not limited to restlessness, withdrawal from friends, as well as uncontrolled or unexplained anger.
“A sudden change in behaviour should also be well- monitored, or if one makes threats to end their life,” said Amakali.
She added that the reasons which bring one to a point of suicide vary, hopelessness being one of them.
“Suicide can be caused by many problems such as shattered dreams, the death of a loved one, guilt, hysteria, long-term illness, broken relationships and many more,” she explained.
Amakali said society can play a role in assisting the family dealing with grief by assuring those left behind that it’s not their fault that their family member committed suicide.
“Most of the time, families feel worse when there’s a suicide note left behind. It’s important to refer to the note and act according to how they feel about what’s in the note,” she continued.
As a Christian, Selma Nangolo urged people to have faith and belief in the Almighty God.
“These evil spirits will not attack you if you are a believer, so let’s stay connected to God,” she advised.