MALE suicide cases in Zimbabwe have been on the rise between 2015 and 2019 compared to females, HealthTimes has learnt
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Over the past five years, the trend has been showing that males were dying more by suicide contrasting with women.With males being more reserved in handling socio-economic issues threatening their mental ability to cope with such, females on the other hand are seen to be more open in seeking help.
Speaking with the Zimbabwe Republic Police National Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi on Wednesday, he said their figures showed the high rates linked with males.
The figures we have indicate that males are dying by suicide more than females like for example, we are seeing in 2015 we had 656, whereas in 2016 had 818 cases, 2017 had 389 cases, who 2018 had 499, and 496 in 2019. Then females in 2015 were 108. In 2017 there were 135 female cases while in 2018 were 97 and 2019, 69,” he said.
Cumulative figures of suicide cases as recorded by the ZRP showed that the year 2017 had the highest number of suicide cases compared to other years between 2015 and 2019.
“In our consolidated figures that is in 2015, there were 764 cases and in 2016 having 953 with 2017 recording 485. In 2018, 596 cases were recorded with 2019 we had 565 cases. As you can see the figures are fluctuating,” said Assistant Commissioner Nyathi.
Some of the suicide cases included death by self poisoning, hanging, ZRP’s figures confirm studies done to date as Dr Fungi Mazhandu says proving that the number of deaths among males is higher than females.
“Depression is more prevalent in females and so is attempted suicide (parasuicide). Males have a higher rate of completed suicides, it’s postulated that they use more extreme or violent methods which are more lethal for example hanging or using weapons. Whereas females tend to favour overdoses or poisons,” she explained
Another psychiatrist Dr David Mukwekwezeke is of the knowledge that depression has a female preponderance while agreeing with Dr Mazhandu that males often succeed in killing themselves.
“The ratio is Male: Female 1:2. As for suicides is quite interesting. Females have a higher rate of attempting suicide but males have a higher rate of being successful. In other words when a man decides to kill himself he really means it and usually succeeds,” says the psychiatrist.
In the first quarter of 2019, 129 cases were recorded with Assistant Commissioner Nyathi last year saying some of suicides cases were people suffering from mental disorders.
“And most of these suicide cases are caused by social problems which include marital problems, which include financial problems, which include people who will be suffering from mental illness,” said Assistant Commissioner Nyathi.
Assistant Commissioner Nyathi also noted that substance abuse by youths was also leading to suicides.
“Some will be due to old age where somebody is now old, is feeling that he or she is being neglected. Or some people will be suffering from chronic illnesses, then they commit suicide. Then on the other hand we also have some youths who engage in drug abuse where they end up also committing suicide,” he said.
He also said there are youngsters who feel harassed if told by guardians what or what not to do.
“And then you also have some people all because they have family problems especially youngsters, they are told not to act in a certain manner by their parents or by their guardians but at the end of the day they feel they are being victimized. Or they are being stopped to do what they should be doing. Then they commit suicide,” said Assistant Commissioner Nyathi.
The Police spokesperson encouraged members of the public to seek counselling should they have social problems.
“Secondly, is to have constant family interaction. And also to be assisted by their community leadership who include the traditional leaders, the church, and other professional bodies so that at the end of the day, we assist people who will be under stress, who will be depressed and help them cope with the demands of life,” he said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines suicide as the act of deliberately killing oneself.
Risk factors for suicide include mental disorder, especially depression, and neurological disorders, cancer and HIV infection. Every year, almost one million people die from suicide, 86% of whom are in low/middle-income countries. Suicide is among the three leading causes of death for young people under 25 and accounts for 10%−20% of deaths in women up to one year after giving birth. The median suicide rate for the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region is 4.90 per 100 000 people, compared with 6.55 for all countries of the world.
WHO 2017 figures show Zimbabwe is ranked number 19 in the world in terms of deaths by suicide, with suicide deaths reaching 1 641 or 1,30% of total mortalities in the country.
An estimated one million people per year in the world are said to die by suicide. As of 2017, it is estimated that around 30% of global suicides were due to pesticide self-poisoning, most of which occur in rural agricultural areas in poor countries.