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‘More women than men attempt suicide’

Statistics has shown that more women than men have attempted suicide, a Zimbabwean psychiatrist has said.

Speaking during a virtual mental health expo organised by Harvest House International Church’s Bulawayo City Hub Four, Saturday, immediate past chair of the Zimbabwe College of Psychiatrists, Dr Chido Rwafa-Madzvamutse, said suicide accounts for between 800 000 to a million deaths a year across the globe.

“Women tend to actually attempt suicide more than men but because women tend to use more non-lethal ways, they survive,” she said. 

“More men die when they do attempt because of the methods that they use.”

She said most suicidal deaths were stress and depression-related.

“This is something that we need to communicate about it, we need to be open about it so that we do not unnecessarily lose lives,” said Dr Rwafa-Madzvamutse.

“Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people. It is a sad loss because these are preventable deaths. There is a strong link between depression and other mental health problems. Most of the time if you look back and ask the family, you will figure out that there was presence of depression or another mental health problem prior to this.”

The psychiatrist said depression results in people having issues of decreased motivation in almost all activities.

“Fatigue, feeling having poor sleep, feeling losing appetite or having an increased appetite and eating too much,” she said.

She added poor concentration, feeling hopeless, worthless and guilty and then recurrent thoughts of dying as a solution are some of the signs of depression.

“These are now suicidal thoughts,” she explained.

“Sometimes they are passive, particularly in strong believers because we don’t believe in taking our own lives, but there will be passive thoughts of: ‘If only God can take me now,’ ‘If only I could sleep and not wake up.’ These are actually passive suicidal thoughts and they need to be addressed.”

She said in African settings, where people may find it difficult to talk about their emotions, they usually with present with many physical symptoms.

“So today it’s a back-ache, tomorrow it’s a stomach-ache, the next day it’s a head-ache,” said Dr Rwafa-Madzvamutse.

“There is lots of physical health problems that do not seem to have any medical basis to them but you carry on going to the doctor because you are feeling unwell. Sometimes depression is actually the issue.”

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