Did you know!
In Zambia, the taboo in many societies to openly discuss suicide is present. Stigma, particularly surrounding mental disorders and suicide, means many people thinking of taking their own life or who have attempted suicide are not seeking help and are therefore not getting the help they need. Zambia passed the Mental Health Act No. 6 of 2019, which clearly guides on mental health and illness.
The Zambia National Public Health Institute through its social media platforms and radio, TV and community engagement is raising community awareness to break down the taboo around mental health and illness as this is important for Zambia to make progress in preventing suicide.
Around 703,000 people worldwide commit suicide each year, with low- and middle-income nations accounting for 77% of all suicide deaths (WHO 2022). These rates of suicide around the world are a severe public health issue. Every suicide death has a terrible effect on families, communities, and entire countries (IASP 2022).
The 10th of September is observed as World Suicide Prevention Day each year to draw attention to and increase awareness of this problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) established this day in 2003 to promote the idea that suicides can be avoided by taking evidence-based action. IASP is the driving force behind the international initiative to stop suicide, stop suicidal behavior, and lessen its impacts.
The theme for World Suicide Prevention Day this year is “Creating Hope through Action,” according to IASP, the organizing group. The phrase “Creating Hope Through Action” serves as a reminder that there is life after suicide and that any action we do, no matter how tiny, can give hope to someone who is hurting (IASP 2022). We can take action by extending a helping hand to someone who may be in trouble, promoting understanding of the situation, and openly sharing our personal experiences. We can also communicate via our acts that there is hope and that we want to encourage those who are contemplating suicide.
To accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target of lowering global suicide mortality by one-third by 2030, the Zambia National Public Health Institute urges stands on working together to prevent suicide. Suicide prevention is highlighted as an essential goal in the WHO Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2030, and steps to prevent suicide are recommended from multiple sectors, including the media, in addition to the health sector. The strategy also exhorts governments to create and carry out extensive national suicide prevention plans, paying particular attention to vulnerable groups (IASP 2022).
IASP (2022). World Suicide Prevention Day. Retrieved from: https://www.iasp.info/2022/09/09/world-suicide-prevention-day/ (Accessed on 10/09/2022)
National Assembly of Zambia (2019). The Mental Health Act, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.parliament.gov.zm/sites/default/files/documents/acts/The%20Mental%20Health%20Act%20No.%206%20of%20%202019.pdf (Accessed 10/09/2022)