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Close to 500 Namibians commit suicide in 13 months

by Rodney Pienaar

Devastating statistics by the Namibian Police have revealed that 496 people took their own lives between January 2017 and January 2018.

The numbers also showed that more men killed themselves during that period totalling at 407 and 74 women.

Of the children who committed suicide, 11 were boys while only four were girls recorded as suicide cases with NamPol in the same period.

Statistics further indicate that last year in January 36 cases of suicide were reported; February (37); March (34); April (26); May (35); June (34); July (33); August (46); September (52); October (30); November (41) and in December 48 cases were recorded.

In January this year 44 cases of suicide were recorded.

When contacted for comment, Clinical Psychologist Dr Shaun Whittaker said that mostly teenagers commit suicide due to depression.

“Young adults turn to be the highest in committing suicide and mostly it is because of depression. Sometimes teenagers are driven mostly to be depressed by academic performance and financial constraints. It also has to do with how the teenagers turnout to compare themselves with other teenagers at schools meaning that they are driven to committing suicide due to material things other teenagers have and they don’t have. Such as expensive gadgets,” he said.

He added that young adults see it as the only solution they have, according to assessment, and then commit suicide.

When asked why more men commit suicide compared to women, Whitaker said, “Men are mostly committing suicide due to unemployment and we have this really unhealthy understating in the society that a man that does not work is worth for nothing. Unemployment is with no doubt the major factor why men commit suicide. Young adult men also commit suicide due to factors such as divorce, level of income, relationships and family crisis,” he said.

He added that Namibians don’t still understand the concept of depression, and there is a sense of shame about it, that is why they commit suicide instead of talking to or seeing health professionals that can help them get over it. 

Whittaker also said that Namibians need to understand that there is a solution to all the problems and committing suicide is not one.

“There is stigma also to depression, unfortunately it is a fairly normal experience. If your child dies, you will be depressed and if a relationship breaks up you will be depressed. And even if you feel lonely you will be depressed. There are many different factors that can cause depression. It is about time that we should discuss about depression because depression is very widespread,” he said.