Zimbabwe News

Suicide cases triple in Bulawayo

The number of people attempting suicide has almost tripled in Bulawayo since last year with concerns that residents are failing to cope with stress, which drives them to the edge leading to suicide.

Statistics from Mpilo Central Hospital show that 58 people have been admitted after suicide attempts since January this year.

Last year figures stood at 15 over the same period and authorities bemoaned the fact that most of those that attempted to take their lives were aged between 15 and 30 years.

More men are committing suicide compared to women and medical experts say men use more dangerous objects compared to women.

In an interview, Mpilo Central Hospital public relations officer Sister Norma Mabhena said some of the people come back after second or third suicide attempts.

She said it was a worrying trend and called on people to keep communication open in families so that those in need can open up.

“From January we have admitted 58 patients who attempted suicide. This excludes the number of people who died after being rushed to the hospital,” she said.

Sister Mabhena said the figure of those who attempted to commit suicide in the city could be higher as some of them go to UBH.

“These cases are also reported to the police and we render clinical services to save lives. We then offer counselling to the patient and their families to establish if there are any issues driving suicidal thoughts. The social workers also engage the affected families to try and establish what could have triggered the suicide,” she said.

Sister Mabhena said if social workers fail to resolve the issue, suicidal patients are sent to Ingutsheni Central Hospital for psychiatric assessment.

Ingutsheni clinical director Dr Wellington Ranga who is also a renowned psychiatrist, said the most commonly used suicide substances are pesticides but of late victims have been overdosing medication as well.

Reasons for the attempts range from failed love relationships, dispute over inheritance, economic challenges and general drug abuse.

“The problem is rooted in the fact that we are quick to teach our children Mathematics preparing them for the world but no one cares to explain how they should cope with loss of loved ones, failed relationships or financial challenges. As they become adults, they struggle to deal with challenges and often become depressed which explains the high rates we have,” he said.

“I do not think these issues need any policy but as individuals we should be comfortable to talk about these issues because no policy will reduce these suicide cases,” said Dr Ranga.

He said men succeed in their suicide attempts as they go for the most dangerous weapons compared to women.

“The fact on the ground is more women attempt suicide but they do not succeed as they use tablets or objects which are not as deadly compared to men. We need to teach men how to handle job losses, catching one’s wife cheating and saving lives,”  said Dr Ranga.

He also urged religious leaders to continue offering counselling services to members of the public who have nowhere to turn to whenever they are in distress.

Contacted for comment, local psychologist Miss Jacqueline Nkomo said Covid-19 after effects could be fuelling suicide attempts as the pandemic left thousands of people prone to depression.

“We cannot divorce the increase of parasuicide cases in Bulawayo from Covid-19 as we know that it has led many into depression. The economy too is also affecting many households and with job losses, disruptions in industry etc, people are depressed and without proper social support, they may consider suicide,” said Miss Nkomo.

She said families should invest in spending time as families and normalise speaking out whenever one is facing challenges.

Miss Nkomo also advised parents to have healthy relationships with their children especially teenagers so that they pick behavioural changes that may lead to suicide attempts.

Source: Bulawayo24

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