Suicide prevention week launched to encourage conversations around mental health

A local organization has launched the first ever Suicide Prevention Week (SPW) in Malawi to encourage healthy conversations around mental health in the country amid a rise in suicide cases this year.

According to the organization, Connect Plus Resource Institute (CPRI), Suicide Prevention Week will be observed from September 5 to every year and will coincide with the World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10 each year.

CPRI Chief Executive Officer Dennis has since invited all stakeholders and the general public to join the conversation.

“We need to encourage this conversation, and the one around suicide. Malawi Police Service statistics show that between January and March 2021, the country witnessed a 72% rise in suicide deaths compared to the same period in 2020; and there was a 57% increase in such cases between January and August 2020 compared to the same period in 2019,” he said.

Betchani Tchereni, a lecturer in economics at the University of Malawi, said unemployment is a big factor in suicide cases.

“With the COVID-19 issue, you will find that some people have lost their jobs. Think about the numbers, 270,000 people losing jobs. That is translating to about 2.7 million people being in trouble because one job in Malawi serves about 10 people per household. So, if they lose hope and enter into depression, it leads to a worst scenario of suicides being committed,” Tchereni said.

Dr. Moses Muotcha, a clinical psychologist at the Kamuzu College of Nursing, believes the rise in suicide cases is largely because of a lack of coping skills to deal with the social and economic problems caused by COVID- 19.

Muotcha said that is why men, who are largely breadwinners in many families, are topping the list of suicide cases.

“Women when they are faced with problems, they are able to talk it out. You know, most of the time, they reach out to their friends. Whereas men, with our culture that men don’t cry, they don’t reach out for help. So, if they have no means of getting food or bread to the family, they think that the best is to just commit suicide,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally every 40 seconds a person dies by suicide and there are many more suicide attempts.

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