Suicides could spike amidst Covid-19

16 April 2020 | Health

Windhoek • [email protected]

The economic and emotional battering from the fall-out of the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to increased suicides and mental health problems in Namibia.
“Namibia already has a high rate of suicides and any stressful events can easily push the rate higher,” counsellors at the Lifeline/Childline clinic cautioned.
A 2018 study concluded that Namibia has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, ranked fourth in Africa and eleventh globally.
Psychologist Shawn Whittaker warns there is a possibility suicides will spike due to the link between depression and feelings of hopelessness arising from unemployment, which many fear is set to rise. “We should prepare ourselves for a long period of mourning and emotional depression as a country.”

Hard
Moreover, as deaths from Covid-19 elsewhere rise, “many families and communities will go into states of depression. Tragically, this is going to last for many months,” Whittaker said.
Ben Cloete of Lifeline/Childline warned that for many the future looks bleak and uncertain, “which makes most people anxious and to those with pre-existing mental health conditions, this can be devastating.”
Cloete said the economic fallout will be especially hard for vulnerable families, who already felt the brunt of social-economic exclusion before the pandemic. “Generally, the unavoidable social isolation will exacerbate levels of anxiety of not knowing when all this is going to end and what life will be like after this.”
Whittaker warned that the most marginalised and vulnerable will be hardest hit, including the elderly, people living with disabilities, the poor, and those living alone or already struggling with mental health conditions.
Mental health workers and mothers forced to work while children are home alone are also vulnerable.
Clinical psychologist Heidi Burmeister-Nel warned that economic pressures are one of the top three stressors anyone can experience, “and this is not a problem that will be resolved in a few weeks”. Nevertheless, the experts agree there are steps individuals and families can take to ease the toll of the pandemic’s side-effects.

Strong
Burmeister-Nel said while it is difficult to make accurate predictions on how the nation will be impacted long-term, there is a silver lining to this unchartered territory. “I do hope and believe that the feeling of solidarity amongst many Namibians can make us more emphatic and compassionate towards each other. This in itself will or can be a tremendous benefit amid the darkness we are facing.”
Burmeister-Nel added that during times of crisis people respond differently, depending on their resilience, resources, support levels, personality. “Some will be mobilised into action in the face of distress, while others will be paralysed. People have different stress saturation points.”
Clinical psychologist Cynthia Beukes of Bel Esprit pointed out that predicting the future is tough under current conditions, but the uncertainty offers opportunities. “This may be an opportunity for us to discover our strengths or this may expose our weaknesses.”
She said many people will be bogged down with fear and anxiety but a shift in thinking could help. “It will be beneficial to shift our focus from what we don’t have, to what it is we do have. What it is that we can control. From that, we can derive strength to make even the most difficult times more manageable.”

Healing
Among the strategies suggested by Lifeline/Childline are for families to encourage emotional bonding and support, as well as communication during their time at home. The help centre encourages keeping in touch as much as possible with friends and family and to encourage sharing feelings of anxiety and worries, as well as doing exercise, storytelling and other activities that bring joy.
Beukes underlined that daily routines that prioritise mental health and self-care are key now. She said people should try to refrain from watching too much news and avoid fake news, as this can add to anxiety. “The quarantine is an opportunity to live healthy, to catch up on sleep, and it’s a great time to stop smoking and drinking,” Whittaker added.
Burmeister-Nel urged people to stay calm and to understand that “there is no normal. It is not a linear process, it will be mixed. It is all part of the process of dealing with uncertain times.”
She urged people to take responsibility for their feelings of anxiety and uncertainty consistently. “Make a conscious decision to not spend unnecessary thoughts on what is out of your control, and actively take charge of what you can.”
The specialists also advised that this is a time many could spend time on things they have never had time for, to help turn the self-isolation and uncertainty into a meaningful experience.

Similar News

 

Namibia benefits from pharmaceutical agreements

4 days ago - 30 June 2020 | Health

Windhoek • [email protected] with a number of pharmaceutical companies will see access to 20 lifesaving cancertreatments for 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa including Namibia.“With a...

Doctors support abortion law review

2 weeks ago - 18 June 2020 | Health

Windhoek • [email protected] prominent Namibian medical doctors have come out in support of a petition calling on Namibia to legalise abortion saying the debate is...

Yoga for hope, yoga from home

2 weeks ago - 17 June 2020 | Health

Windhoek • Dr Nikhila Hiremath The rapid changes in today’s world has opened our eyes to the importance of managing positive physical and mental health.With...

Kleintyd droom in eie besigheid verwesenlik

2 weeks ago - 16 June 2020 | Health

Windhoek • [email protected]’n Lewensondersteuningskursus het ’n 15-jarige jong man só beïndruk dat hy jare later sy eieparamedikus-onderneming op die been gebring hetMike Hawkins het in...

Thermal cameras for health ministry

2 weeks ago - 15 June 2020 | Health

The FirstRand Namibia HOPE (Health Optimisation in a Pandemic Emergency) Fund donated 15 fever screening thermal cameras valued at N$1.4 million to the ministry of...

SA hurdles cause medicine crisis

3 weeks ago - 12 June 2020 | Health

Windhoek • [email protected] work by private and government parties is underway to address a crisis that has led to depletion or severe scarcities of a...

Medical students want allowance delays resolved

3 weeks ago - 12 June 2020 | Health

Windhoek • [email protected] health ministry this week confirmed nearly all of the Namibian medicalscholarship students studying in Zambia have received their allowancesfollowing complaints of a...

Renewed call for legal abortions

3 weeks ago - 11 June 2020 | Health

Windhoek • [email protected] women and men have revived a push for government to set aside thecountry’s 45-year-old apartheid-era abortion law that was binned in South...

No safe way to smoke

1 month - 27 May 2020 | Health

Observing World No Tobacco Day on Sunday (31 May), the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN)reaffirms their position that there is no safe way to smoke.“We...

Specialty training for African doctors

1 month - 22 May 2020 | Health

The Merck Foundation together with African First Ladies continue their strategy to provide specialty training for African doctors by providing a one-year diploma and two-year...

Latest News

Housing initiative to help need

1 day - 03 July 2020 | Local News

Windhoek • [email protected]“The lives of those living in the informal settlements in Namibia are characterized daily by whatseems to be a persuasive idea that they...

Sweet sugar deal signed

1 day - 03 July 2020 | Business

Bokomo Namibia has completed the acquisition of the sugar packaging and distribution business of Tongaat Hulett Namibia (THN), following approval by the Namibian Competition Commission...

What's hot this weekend

2 days ago - 02 July 2020 | Art and Entertainment

Currently running• Namibian artist Elisia Nghidishange hosts her third solo exhibition, The Insight of Intrusive Women, at the National Art Gallery until 18 July.• The...

Civil servants answer to citizens

2 days ago - 02 July 2020 | Government

Minister of home affairs, immigration, safety and security Frans Kapofi implored civil servants in his ministry to deliver service with integrity and efficiency.Speaking at the...

ICT a catalyst for economic...

2 days ago - 02 July 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Llewellyn le HanéNamibia seems to be on the cusp of a major technological revolution; suddenly we have apps for everything, online payment systems...

Early morning deliciousness

2 days ago - 02 July 2020 | Banking

As part of Nedbank’s stakeholder engagement, the bank’s marketing and communication team treated Namibia Media Holdings staff to a hot cup of coffee and a...

Taking a stand for freedom...

2 days ago - 02 July 2020 | Local News

Windhoek • [email protected] an effort to save Namibian women who are losing their freedom due to the criminalisation of abortion, one Namibian is taking the...

Swapo MPs choose 62-day NA...

2 days ago - 02 July 2020 | Government

An attempt by the leader of official opposition to extend the current National Assembly (NA) sitting beyond its envisaged recess date on 8 July fell...

Young Namibian authors awarded

2 days ago - 02 July 2020 | Local News

Winners in a fiction for children writing competition have been awarded, with three winning entries from Namibia.The competition took place under the auspices of the...

Load More