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245% increase in suicide attempts

by Staff reporter
11 Mar 2024 at 04:54hrs | Views
MPILO Central Hospital in Bulawayo has recorded a 245 percent increase in attempted suicide cases handled at the health institution amid reports that the most affected age group includes young adults aged under 30.

A total of 38 suicide attempts were recorded at the referral hospital in January and February this year, an increase from 11 cases recorded during the same period last year.

 In 2023, a total of 162 attempted suicide cases were recorded at Mpilo.

Failed marriages, work-related stress, unemployment, family disintegration and grief were cited as the major drivers.

The suicide rate in Zimbabwe has been increasing. In 2015, the suicide rate was 12 deaths per 100 000 people. The data from 2019 shows that the suicide rate in Zimbabwe was 14,1 deaths per 100 000 people.

This increased to 18 deaths per 100  000 people in 2020. The suicide rate in Zimbabwe is higher than the global average of 10, 5 deaths per 100 000 people.

According to a World Bank report, it is also higher than the suicide rate in neighbouring countries such as South Africa (12, 5 deaths per 100 000 people) and Mozambique (10,9 deaths per 100  000 people).

Mpilo Central Hospital's clinical director Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said the most common method used by patients was mixing pesticides with alcohol.

"In 2023 January and February, we had 11 cases and this year during the same period we have had 38 cases, which translates to a 245 percent increase. Last year, we had 162 cases and now in just two months into the year, we already have 38 which is a cause of concern," he said.

"The most used substance is a pesticide which is mixed with alcohol. We have some people who are abusing the medication and others starve themselves to death. Underlying childhood problems, family disintegration, and marriage disputes are driving these cases and this is a wake-up call for us as a community."

Prof Ngwenya said some of the patients have cited depression and bullying as a key driver to attempting suicide.

"Grief and disputes with workmates is another challenge and I think something should be done to make our work environment less toxic. On the other hand, it's the unemployment depression, and the ages are worrying because it's mainly young people in their early and late 20s," he said.

"We are trying our best to counsel these patients, our psychiatric nurses are working flat out to counsel them so that they get the necessary help."

Prof Ngwenya said some of the survivors are referred to Ingutsheni Central Hospital for further psychiatric management.

He said the hospital is also working with social workers to help the affected deal with the menace.

"We are appealing to members of the public to take care of their mental health, we should all revive the traditional social systems like extended family. We should cultivate relationships with in-laws as well," said Prof Ngwenya.

"We should not tackle marriage challenges single-handedly, but engage our families so that we get the help. I also encourage people to normalise counselling especially those grieving so that they get all the psychosocial help."

Local psychologist Ms Jacqueline Nkomo said that given the spike in mental health challenges, members of the public should go for routine counselling.

"Families should invest in spending time together and normalise speaking out whenever one is facing challenges. Parents should establish healthy relationships with their children, especially teenagers so that they don't adopt behavioural changes that may lead to suicide attempts," she said.

Source - The Chronicle
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