RECENT statistics show that Namibia had 679 people who died of suicide between January 2021 and May 2022.
Out of that number, a total of 559 were male adults, while a total of 91 were female adults who ended their lives.
During the same period, 18 male minors and 11 female minors also died by suicide.
This is according to statistics revealed by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) at the occasion of Khomas Suicide Prevention Taskforce’s (KSPT) media conference for the suicide prevention public awareness in the region.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Esther Utjiua Muinjangue, the deputy minister of health, stated that the gathering will officially set in motion the public information and education awareness for the noble cause of raising awareness, reducing the stigma around suicide and encouraging well-informed action that will reduce or prevent instances of suicide in the greater Khomas region.
The deputy minister stated that in September 2021, the KSPT was established by the Ministry of Health and Social Services in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology’s (MICT) Khomas Regional Office, the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs, Debmarine Namibia, Mekenificent Wellness Center, the High Commission of India and Lifeline-ChildLine Namibia to champion suicide prevention.
The regional suicide statistics from January 2021 to May 2022 revealed that the Omusati region had the highest recorded suicide incidents numbering 105, leaving Ohangwena in the second position with 100 cases. The Khomas region was placed third with 80 incidents.
The same three regions were reported to have the highest number of suicides from January 2020 to June 2021, with Omusati having recorded 111 cases, while both Ohangwena and Khomas recorded 99 cases each.
Based on this, the deputy minister of health shared that the Omusati, Ohangwena, and Khomas regions need to double their efforts in the prevention of suicidal behaviour.
“All of us need to join hands in the fight against suicide in our country,” Muinjangue said, adding that there has been a dramatic rise in the frequency and magnitude of suicide and mental health incidents in the country, threatening large populations living in diverse communities.
Muinjangue stated that if these trends continue, the costs associated with suicide and negative mental health incidents will continue to increase and place more people at risk.
She added that suicidal behaviour has increased in Namibia, including attempted suicide pacts.
“A suicide pact is an agreement between two or more people to take their lives together, such as the incident in Swakopmund this year. This is a grave concern for Namibia, when we begin to lose two people at a time. That is why the country needs immediate public information and education on national disaster or emergency’s preparedness, response, prevention and mitigation,” the deputy minister said.
Muinjangue concluded that her office is planning to sensitise other regional health directors, political leaders, traditional leaders and other stakeholders for them to replicate the “Suicide Prevention Initiative” into their respective regions, and an effort to collectively prevent and reduce suicide incidents in the country.
In the event of an emergency, people or individuals can reach or contact local police stations or the emergency numbers at 112 (Emergency Services Switchboard).
The social workers at the Ministry of Health and Social Services can be reached at 0811695683. There are also social workers at the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare.
Child Welfare Services for Children can be reached at 0612833111 for any issues related to suicides or mental health. The Lifeline/Childline toll-free number is 116 or 106, which is open 24/7. Anyone can also contact any health professional at any local clinic or other ministry.
File photo for illustrative purposes only. Photo: WIFI now global.