Malawi paying little attention to suicide prevention

Psychologist Dr Eric Umar has said Malawi as a nation is paying little attention to initiatives that could help prevent rising cases of suicide in the country.

Umar was exclusively talking to Nyasa Times on Friday, 10th September, 2021 which was World Suicide Prevention Day.

The day is commemorated on 10th September every year and it was first commemorated in 2003. The day is meant to provide worldwide commitment and spar some action in the prevention of suicide.

Dr Eric Umar

Dr Umar said there was very little attention paid towards mental health as evidenced by the fact that Malawi as a country has only three major mental health hospitals in Zomba, Bwaila in Lilongwe and St John of God in Mzuzu.

“In normal circumstances, in each and every hospital at district level, there was supposed to be a proper mental health facility or clinic but that is not the case.

“Malawi has registered a lot of suicide cases but you will notice that there is very little attention that Malawi as a nation is paying to these cases. For sure, we have reached a level where just like maybe Malawi has a presidential committee on Covid-19, at this time we should have something similar to that; a presidential committee on suicide prevention. Or it could not be presidential but something that shows more effort from government to fight suicide but there is literally nothing happening on the ground,” explained Dr Umar.

According to Umar, as Malawi is commemorating this day, it needs some kind of soul searching to evaluate itself on what kind of interventions can be put in place and what else could be done.

He added that the starting point could be having a proper investigation into all the cases that have been there to gather enough information that would guide in designing methods, approaches and initiatives that could help prevent suicide in the country.

Suicide is referred to as the act of intentionally causing one’s own death. Mental disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, spectrum disorders and substance use are some of the risk factors.

Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress such as from financial or academic difficulties, relationship problems such as break ups or deaths of close ones or harassment and bullying.

Approximately 1.5% of all deaths worldwide are by suicide and common methods of suicide include hanging, pesticide poisoning and fire arms.

Effective suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide such as fire arms, drugs and poisons; treating mental disorders and substance misuse; careful media reporting about suicide and improving economic conditions.

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Dennis Boris
Dennis Boris
2 years ago

This is extremely true. It seems all attention has gone towards covid 19 that other equally disturbing diseases have been forgiven. Yes suicide needs proper attention, road accidents too. There is need for proper committees to be set up to come up with evident based interventions.

2 years ago

Truly, there is need for concerted effrot to fight this. It is a complicated terrain that needs proper methods to make an impact. Covid-19 has overshadowed so many other health problems. Deaths due to Road accidents. This too require high level attention, just like the Presidential covod 19 committee type; certainly suicide.

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