Suicides can be prevented

17 Sep, 2023 - 00:09 0 Views
Suicides can be prevented Mertha Mo Nyamande

Mertha Mo Nyamande

THE world commemorated World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, while the rest of the month is dedicated to raising awareness on the issue.

There has been a rise in reports of suicide cases in Zimbabwe, especially of men of all ages.

“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. 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),” reads part of a World Bank report.


Suicide is a complex concept. It is a “deliberate” way of ending one’s life and there are many ways of carrying this out. There are also different reasons for suicide.

Methods of committing suicide are often not random. They are usually specific and deliberate, with a direct message to someone, usually the “perceived tormentor”. The concept of deliberate self-harm is differentiated from suicide, although strongly correlated.

Core cause

The core cause of suicide is a compromised mental state. This usually arises when the person affected cannot see any other way out of their situation, apart from permanently ending their pain. Psychology practitioners usually carry out risk assessments to ascertain the level of hazard and recommend contingency or risk management plans.

 The different types

 Deliberate: The suicides are often meticulously planned over time and carefully executed. They can also be very abrupt/impulsive. Suicide, in this case, usually means eliminating pain, not necessarily life, but this would be impossible to differentiate.

There are other less deliberate types of suicides, where people seem to live recklessly to expose themselves to harm or disease.

Accidental suicides: These are unintentional but risky events, often poorly calculated to help cope with some emotional turmoil/crisis. These include overdoses, where drug tolerance is not properly understood or regulated.

 Other contributory factors

There are a number of factors that contribute to a deteriorating mental state that leads to suicide. These include stigmatisation through discrimination and isolation, for example, relationship breakdowns.

Most religions view suicide as sin, which discourages many believers from taking their own lives. They may feel suicidal but would be ashamed to admit such sin.

Other suicides arise from pacts in religious extremism. However, these are not common in Zimbabwe.

Such religious extremists perform slightly different forms of suicide. A case in point is when they are “sent” to carry out what

they term “God’s will” against non-believers.

Men are considered at high risk of suicide as they tend to bottle up their emotions and shy away from talking about their problems in fear of being seen as weak. No wonder the saying “Kufa kwemurume kubuda ura”, which means a man has to make hard sacrifices.

The methods they use in committing suicide are more aggressive and lethal.

This is often due to lack of support when they are confronted with challenges.

 How to tell when someone is suicidal

There are normally four stages that people go through when it comes to suicide, although others tend to be abrupt and impulsive.

  1. The first stage is marked by fleeting suicidal thoughts. The person talks casually about committing suicide due to hardships. Their character may also take a drastic change.
  2. In the second stage, the fleeting thoughts worsen. The person is preoccupied with suicidal thoughts and often researches on effective ways of taking their own lives.
  3. In the third stage, specific plans and intentions are strengthened — including giving away of valuables, writing of notes and saying goodbyes.
  4. The final stage is marked by execution of the plan. Often, all the details would have been shared with someone else.

 How to help

If you know someone who talks about life as being unworthy, do not ignore this as you may be the only person they had the courage to share such information with. If you feel poorly equipped to deal with the situation, follow the steps below to help prevent a potentially tragic occurrence.

Provide a safe environment to talk about difficult issues in a supportive and non-judgemental manner.

Offer a listening ear if you have the mental strength and capacity.

Refer to community support service providers, counsellors, psychologists, or religious, traditional or other community leaders.

Refer for primary care, where the individual is taken to a clinic for help by a doctor or nurse.

Refer for secondary care, where the individual will get professional help.

Admission at mental institutions like the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals (Annex Hospital) or Ingutsheni is usually the last resort, if all the above options have failed.

If you are contemplating suicide, please reach out for help. There are many resources available to you, including the following:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 08 08 482

Friendship Bench: +263 784 845 294

You can visit your local clinic for assessment.

It is normal to have suicidal thoughts when times are hard and when it seems there is no other way out, but you are not alone. Reach out as help is available.

Mertha Mo Nyamande is a psychotherapist. He can be contacted on: [email protected] or @


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