DR NG'ANG'A: Myths About Suicide
3 months ago, 14 Sep 15:49
Do you know that every 40 seconds, someone in the world commits suicide? According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year and it is the second leading cause of death in 15 to 30 year-olds. It is, also, thought that for every successful suicide, there are 25 failed attempts.
Suicide in African communities is considered a taboo topic and most people are ill informed and ill equipped to handle it. It is for this reason that we need to debunk myths surrounding this issue.
Myth:Talking about suicide is a bad idea, it may give someone the idea to try it.
Fact:Suicidal people have no outlet for their thoughts and concerns. They often feel isolated and alone. They also feel that they will burden others with their issues and opt to keep to themselves. This can be catastrophic. If you are concerned that someone may be suicidal, open up the discussion about it — it could save a life. People who have felt suicidal will often say what a huge relief it was to be able to talk about their dark thoughts. Talking about it often helps them realise that there are other options to suicide.
Myth:Children and teens cannot get depressed — there is nothing stressful in their lives!
Fact:Children as young as 10 can get depressed. Clinical depression is a mental illness not just a product of social circumstances or age. You can have every material thing you desire but still be depressed.
Myth: Suicide is impulsive
Fact:Suicide is rarely an impulsive action. Most people who commit suicide tend to have had suicidal thoughts long before. In fact, some people even organise their lives and make wills, divide property, resign from work, visit family to say goodbye as part of their plan to commit suicide.
Myth:Stress causes suicide
Fact: Sometimes, relatives of people who committed suicide blame themselves for the event. For example, if a woman leaves her husband and he goes and jumps off a bridge, she and everyone around her may blame her for his suicide. This is the wrong perception of causation of suicide. Suicide has triggers — things that push a suicidal person to kill himself or herself. These include losing a loved one, losing a job, going bankrupt. The person was thinking about killing himself and his wife leaving him was just the trigger. She is not to blame for his choices and actions.
Myth:Inability to cope with depression is a sign of weakness
Fact: Unfortunately, the word ‘depression’ is used loosely to mean ‘low mood’ — this gives us the impression that you can ‘snap out of it’ if you have sufficient willpower. This is, however, not true for clinical depression. This is an illness that has been found to result in changes in the brain chemical balance and must be viewed as such. You cannot ‘snap out’ of clinical depression and your ability to cope with it has nothing to do with moral strength ...
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