By: Annakleta Haikera
Suicide continues to be a harrowing reality in Namibia. The country recorded nearly 10 suicides in the first week of the year.
Between January 2020 and June 2021, 745 Namibians took their own lives, averaging over one suicide a day.
Although suicide rates have declined gradually since 2000, statistics show that there was an increase of 2 per cent in 2015.
Ortmann Yousef Ipinge, an artist, producer and photographer who attempted suicide twice last year, says that suicidal thoughts are caused not only by sexual relationships but also by family and friends.
“Content of relationship plays the highest role. Suicidal thoughts approached me the day I got distracted. It’s not really something you wish for, but the dark cloud just kicks in. Society plays a role in who we are and what we want to be, and this I refer to family and friends not being there emotionally and physically,” Ipinge tells The Villager.
He said that the way family members choose to criticise the choice of career of other family members can be a trigger towards suicidal thoughts.
Studies show the cause of the increase in suicide rates in 2016 was depression, lifting the burden of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Ipinge was rushed to the hospital to pump out medication he had taken to take his life.
“I got pushed to a corner where dying was the only solution, and it’s dark out there. We voice out to people we feel can help talk us out, but most of the time, these people fail us. Some will be like ‘Ortmann, you are joking’ because they always see you with a happy face and are fun around them.
I also feel some social workers are not to be trusted. Some social workers share what you are going through with people they should not share with.
“Some will mock you instead of helping, and some will ignore and think it doesn’t concern them. Life is like quicksand. With all this, you roll back to your thoughts again. As much as you are a human being, you need people around you to support you.”
According to statistics, suicides deaths per 100,000 population in 2019 were 16.70 per cent for men and 3.20 per cent for women. This was higher in 2018, where the figure stood at 17.00 per cent for men and 3.10 for women. In 2017, suicide deaths per 100,000 population were 18.40 per cent and 3.90 per cent for women.
Ipinge says he started his journey towards rehabilitation and healing and to grow himself mentally and emotionally following a conversation with a friend.
He says his friend got him off the rope for his second attempt.
“A friend once told me, ‘you know everything is with God; killing yourself will be a big loss to the society. I am inspired and do what I do because you motivated me to be the better person I am every day. The struggle never ends. You got to push. You are unique.”
Berthiliah Simbaranda, a private care social worker, says that depression is the biggest contributor to suicide.
“Depression can make a person feel a lot of emotional pain and unable to think straight. Emotional pain is greater than physical pain. The wounds can heal, but the emotional one does not heal easily.”
She said many people who attempt suicide lack the confidence to approach others for help. She also said that sometimes, when people receive bad news, they don’t know how to deal with it and opt to end their life.
“Some other contributing factors could be the fear of loss for their loved ones and loss of income. When a person is so much in debt, they don’t see other options but to kill themselves.”
She said children also commit suicide because of being bullied or if they feel suffocated to get out of the problem.
“With boys, when a boy is sexually abused, to come out and say this, for fear of being humiliated,” she said, can also lead them to take their own lives.
She also said some attempt suicide as a cry for help. According to her, suicide can also be a trend. “Like now that we see a lot of artists committing suicide.”
“We can avoid suicide by giving support as family members, talking to a pastor, social workers, life skills teachers or school counsellors, and having a strong support system. Family and friends should always pick up the sign. You can tell when someone whose hyper starts feeling down, or those making funny comments about suicide,” she said.
“Nevertheless, we often struggle to bring up suicidal thoughts with those we love, even when we know someone might be struggling.”