The Sunday Mail
Phillipa Mukome Chinhoi
RECENTLY, Zimbabwe woke up to the sad news that Tafadzwa Murengwa, a well-known dealer, had shot and killed his girlfriend Samantha Dzapata and later committed suicide.
Barely two days after this shocking murder-suicide, Takudzwa Mutataguta (32), a well-known body builder, who was musician Killer T’s bodyguard, also committed suicide.
Last week, popular socialite Jackie Ngarande revealed she was on the verge of committing suicide as a way of escaping a toxic and abusive relationship.
In recent years, the number of people that are taking their own lives in Zimbabwe is increasing.
A 2019 World Health Organisation (WHO) report put Zimbabwe on 19th position on the world suicide rankings.
Globally, the WHO report revealed a 42 percent rise in suicide cases in 2019 when compared to the previous year.
But what can be attributed to this rise in suicide cases?
The Sunday Mail Society recently interviewed a cross-section of people, ranging from medical experts to traditional healers.
Below are some of the responses from people from diverse religious and cultural beliefs.
Medical practitioners attributed suicide to a number of factors. Dr Mertha Mo Nyamande, an integrative psychologist, attributed suicide to a number of factors, chief among them desperation and mental problems.
“In most cases, the victims become hopeless and helpless at the time. In the end, that person will ultimately take his or her life. We also have drug addicts who sometimes take drug overdoses that will in the end cause their deaths,” Dr Nyamande said.
Dr Nyamande also attributed suicide to societal problems that include loss of livelihoods and financial problems, among others.
Drug and substance abuse is also said to be a major driver of suicide.
Community psychologist, Noreen Kudzanai Wini Dari, said suicide is mostly related to mental health problems.
“The majority of the victims will be facing mental health issues during the time that they kill themselves.
“There is need to prioritise mental health issues,” she said.
Dari said research has shown that more women than men are more likely to commit suicide.
Children, just like adults, can also take their own lives.
The Zion Bishops Conference of Zimbabwe said evil spirits are contributing to rising suicide cases.
The religious leader said demons push people into taking such drastic actions.
“We have certain bad behaviours that are inspired by demons. Drug and substance abuse, stress and loneliness are some of the things that are fuelled by demons,” Archbishop Ziwerere said.
He said the biblical case in which Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and went on to commit suicide is a clear indication that suicidal tendencies have been part of humanity.
Archbishop Ziwerere urged Government and other stakeholders to put in place measures that mitigate the effects of mental health induced suicidal tendencies.
Apostle Togarepi Tapera Chivaviro of the Visionary of Assemblies of Pentecostal Methodists also blamed evil spirits for fuelling suicide.
He urged those experiencing suicidal tendencies to urgently seek help.
Traditional /cultural perspectives
Traditional and faith healers also attributed the bane of suicide to evil spirits.
Mbuya Sarah Samanyandwe, a traditional healer, said some people are driven into taking their lives by avenging spirits.
She said issues to do with mental health must be discussed openly and those that have suicidal tendencies must urgently seek help.
“The options are many and varied. Those with suicidal tendencies must either visit medical professionals or traditional and faith healers,” Mbuya Sanyamandwe said.
According to the Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drugs Network, about 60 percent of admissions into mental health institutions are due to drug and substance abuse.
Worryingly, 80 percent of the admissions are students from tertiary institutions.
Simbarashe Mudzengere, a former drug addict who fought off suicidal tendencies and came out clean, said the problem can be dealt with.
“I am a survivor. I was unemployed and was desperate to get married and settle down.
“Without a job, starting a family proved to be an impossible mission.”
“One day I attempted to kill myself but the tree branch that I had hanged myself gave in. I was counselled and from that day, I will never, ever, attempt to take my life,” Mudzengere said.