The World Health Organization announced on Thursday October 5th the launch of a suicide prevention campaign in Africa, a region it says has the highest rate of suicide deaths in the world.
Cameroon’s suicide rate increased from 4.9% in 2012 to 12.2% in 2019. More men are generally known to be suicide victims than women. From 2012-2022 a total of 994 women, and 2064 men were reported to have committed suicide.
Reports says that most Cameroonians commit suicide due to job loss, financial stress , abuse , trauma , stress and untreated mental health issues, family problems and failure in life. COVID19 has also bought its own share of troubles and disappointments, forcing many to give up on life and seek a way of escape.
Mental Health in Cameroon is least cared for, reason the WHO calls on the government to begin addressing the issue by outlining preventive measures. They include ; Implementing suicide prevention policies, training continuity health care givers on suicide prevention, raising awareness about suicide prevention, reducing the stigma associated to committing suicides and making counseling a norm in our society, regularly meeting with a psychologist.
The prevention campaign is launched on World Mental Health Day, October 10. Conducted on social networks, it “aims to reach 10 million people in the region,” according to WHO Africa.
Global Campaign in Africa
The social media campaign, launched ahead of World Mental Health Day, aims to reach 10 million people across the African region to raise public awareness and galvanize the support of governments and policymakers to increase focus and funding for mental health programming, including suicide prevention efforts.
Such efforts include equipping health workers to better support those dealing with suicidal thoughts, educating people who may experience these thoughts on where to go for help as well as sensitizing the public on how to identify and help those in need and to help tackle the stigma associated with suicide, epilepsy, mental health conditions and alcohol and drug abuse.
The African region is home to six of the 10 countries with the highest suicide rates worldwide. The common means of suicide in the region are hanging and pesticide self-poisoning and to a lesser extent drowning, use of a firearm, jumping from a height or medication overdose. Studies show that in Africa for each completed suicide, there are an estimated 20 attempted ones.
In August 2022, African health ministers gathering for the Seventy-second session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa—the region’s flagship health meeting—endorsed a new strategy to reinforce mental health care and set 2030 targets: all countries to have a policy or legislation on mental health, 60% of countries implementing the policy, 95% of countries monitoring and reporting on key mental health indicators and 80% of countries have a budget for mental health services.
“Suicide is a major public health problem and every death by suicide is a tragedy. Unfortunately, suicide prevention is rarely a priority in national health programmes,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Significant investment must be made to tackle Africa’s growing burden of chronic diseases and non-infectious conditions such as mental disorders that can contribute to suicide.”