Off the Wall of Christopher Mhone on dealing with suicide

My take on suicide! This is a serious public mental health concern and is growing rapidly in Malawi. What we need to know as a society is that suicide is a mental health issue. In psychiatry, it is an emergency, as such any person that is known to have feelings of wanting to commit suicide is treated with optimum attention because there is a very thin line between attention seeking behaviour and real intent to kill oneself.

Family members and the community, our role therefore is that once we know of anyone who is in this situation, we have a responsibility to take them to the hospital. In Malawi, almost every hospital now has specialised mental health practitioners that we have trained here at St John of God and others from other eminent institutions globally.

Suicide is a result of irrational thoughts which develop when one is experiencing depression. Medication and psychotherapy are available across Malawi. If you don’t know what to do, you can walk into any of our hospitals either in Mzuzu or Lilongwe, Saint John of God is there for you!

Have you noticed that amongst the reported cases of suicide lately, we see more of men killing themselves? Why? There are a number of factors, however the core problem lies in the dangerous forms of masculinity in which men have been socialised to believe that they should always be strong even in the face of massive socio-economic and psychological burden they experience. Thus men rarely talk about their problems, even to their own peers.

The society in which we live has so many challenges, please tell yourself that you are not immune, don’t pretend even when you are being eaten up inside. Find professional help. You are not a typical representation of the masculine ego, you are a human being, you can cry, its ok!

Its about time that as a nation we recognize this growing problem and that our health care institutions are able to respond appropriately through proper allocation of specialists at a point of patients’ entry to minimise undiognosed cases of depression and related mental health problems.

At a family level, couples also must find proactive means of managing their problems. A healthy family is a talking family. Poor communication is not just lack of positive dialogue, it is also about how we communicate. Language can kill. Let us create healthy environments in our families.

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King Tippex
3 years ago

St. John of God is overwhelmed with patients. My own experience in the last four years has shown me that most of the so called specialists are under trained.

Wm Shakespeare
Wm Shakespeare
3 years ago

Good points – but who picked a sketch of a lynching to illustrate suicide?

3 years ago

Very true! Its just very sorry that our government does not take it as a serious problem. For example if we talk of counselling people do not take it as a thing that need to be taken seriously. I guess this is just because the government so far has not incorporated counselling in public systems. Had it been in the system, more people would acquire the psychotherapy together with medication treatment….I

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