Suicide in Africa may be low (compared to the western world), but it is not as low as previously thought. We, now, are adopting more of the foreign lifestyle — we eat, dress, love, live, and die like them! Suicide rate here is significantly increasing and higher than you know [60% increase in the last 50 years]! But, there’s inadequate data on suicide; and because of the strong cultural and religious view against suicide here, much stigma is attached to it — suicide is not reported. It is considered a taboo and shameful; it is covered… .
The mistake is to assume it can’t happen until, (God forbid!), a family member or friend of yours takes his or her own life! You wouldn’t have guessed!
Please watch out! — that’s the wisest thing to do. People who commit suicide usually appear normal, until you look carefully, and ask specific questions. Be your brother’s keeper!
[Males commit suicide more than females. I will, for convenience, use the masculine pronouns henceforth.]
Does he, sometimes, talk about killing himself? He gives away his belongings. He keeps saying, “In case, I die… “. Does he talk of being tired of living and wishes he is dead? 80% of people talk about it before taking their lives. Don’t take suicidal thoughts and words casually.
Is he depressed? Sad mood. Low appetite. Poor sleep. Slow and weak. Lack of desire for fun and excitement. Change in character and mood. Talks of being hopeless, helpless, and worthless. 50% of people who commit suicide experience severe depression. There may be occasional feeling of greatness and joy — a kind of bipolar mood swing; don’t be deceived. Watch out!
Does he have problems in interpersonal relationships? Heartbreak. Break up. Divorce. Death of lover or spouse. Does she have a violent, abusive, irresponsible husband? Does he have a nagging “unsupportive” wife? Is he single and unmarried, and living alone, isolated, lonely?
Is he experiencing financial difficulties or socioeconomic challenges? Unemployment. Poverty. Homelessness. Academic challenges.
Does he have personal and character issues? Prone to anger and poor control of impulses. Prone to feelings of guilt. Poor ability to handle stress and solve problems. Low self-esteem and shyness. Social withdrawal. Feelings of lack of choice. [Suicide happens when what one feels overwhelms what one knows.]
Does he have a serious health problem? Mental disorder. Recently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS or cancer. Does he experience insomnia? Is he in severe body-pain? Does he abuses drugs or consumes alcohol and gets drunk?
HOW TO HELP
Be there for him. Stay with him. Support him. Listen to him. Let him talk and pour out his heart. Help him solve the cause of despair and depression. Make him feel needed. Help him see that there’s hope. If you lack the ability and skills to help, arrange for him to meet someone who does — pastor, doctor, counselor, psychologist, community or religious leader, etc. Get professional help! Now!
Are you considering suicide? Are you planning on hurting yourself? Please, wait…call me first! You are important to me! I feel your hurt. I am sensitive to your pain. And I will tell you why.
Live life alive!