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Malawi Moves to Tackle Rising Cases of Suicide

Blantyre — Police records show that for the past five years suicide cases in Malawi have jumped from 128 in 2018 to 292 last year.

Police statistics given to VOA show that the current suicide rate is at 11.6 per 100,000 people, higher than the global average of 10.5 per 100,000.

Peter Kalaya, a spokesperson for the Malawi Police Service, said the records show that more youths are committing suicide than older persons.

“And what topped the list are issues to do with disagreement in relationships such as marital problems. Even for young girls who killed themselves — most of the reasons were that of relationship issues for example, failing to accept that a relationship has ended.”

However, Kalaya said other people have killed themselves because of economic problems.

Charles Masulani, a mental health expert, said another contributing factor might be unrealistic parental expectations or negative parenting.

“There are a lot of parents that psychologically stress their children but also serious expectations; the child might be doing well at school but not performing well, the child, to run away from those problems, might also resort to commit suicide,” said Masulani.

A shortage of public mental health care is seen as a contributing factor to the problem.

Malawi, one of the poorest countries in Africa, has only one public mental hospital, Zomba Mental Hospital, and few privately-owed mental health facilities.