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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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245 percent increase in para-suicide cases

Story by Yolanda Moyo

THE City of Bulawayo is grappling with an alarming increase in cases of attempted suicide with more than 30 cases having been attended to at Mpilo Central Hospital since the beginning of the year.

In an interview with ZBC News this Monday, the hospital’s clinical director, Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said there has been an increase of 245 percent in the past two months compared to the same period last year.

“We have seen a steady rise in parasuicide cases in recent months. The patients come from all walks of life, but there does seem to be a higher prevalence among young adults. This is a very worrying trend, and we must address the underlying causes. In 2023 January and February, we had 11 cases and this year during the same period we have had 38 cases.”

“The most used substance is a pesticide which is mixed with alcohol. We have some people who are abusing the prescribed medication and others starve themselves to death. This rise in attempted suicides has psychologists based at the hospital have pointed towards a multitude of factors contributing to this trend, including failed marriages, work-related stress, unemployment, family breakdown, and grief,” he said.

Mental health experts are convinced there is a need for a multifaceted approach to address the challenge.

Ingutsheni Hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr Nemache Mawere said, “We need to create open conversations about mental health. People struggling with suicidal thoughts should feel comfortable seeking help without fear of stigma. We need a multifaceted approach to dealing with this crisis. There is a need to make therapy and counselling more readily available and affordable is crucial.”

“As an institution, we receive some patients from Mpilo or UBH with some cases we believe they are dealt with at family level, thus the need to strengthen the family as a societal system in dealing with these cases from the start.”

Government is already taking steps to combat the mental health crisis by increasing access to treatment and promoting community support.

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