Love or affection: The case of Zim youths and suicides

BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA

They say love is the answer-whether its agape, pragma or mania form, love is said to conquer all.

 Those who believe have seen it all adds love is a dangerous game but in it all, it’s evident that it could be soothing and emotional.

In reality, it seems sometimes love doesn’t always conquer, it also doesn’t answer but it leaves a lot of questions.

What kind of love drives one to commit suicide?

Zimbabwe has in the past experienced a surge in young people, mainly male college students, committing suicide over love.

The recent example is of a 27-year old Highfield man and a college student, Takudzwa Chifamba, who killed himself after discovering that his girlfriend of four years was impregnated by a rival suitor.

Despite his family trying to calm him down, the man announced on a family Whatsapp group that he had no reason to live after the betrayal.

He hanged himself and died before being buried at his rural home Mutoko.

His case is one of a plethora cases being experienced in the country as young men seem to be failing to handle relationships.

Masvingo based social commentator Simbarashe Namusi said the current mental health crisis could be a factor on the decadence of social and cultural values.

“The surge in suicide cases can be attributed to societal pressures that young people are facing. We are living a “Facebook life” with unrealistic expectations and unfortunately, the social fabric and family support structures are not helping to insulate these young people,” he said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that 30 percent of people using primary health care facilities in Zimbabwe suffer from common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

“Society and the elders within have to accept and take up their role as elders. This “each to his own” principle does not work,” added Namusi.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), suicide is the 19th most common cause of death in Zimbabwe, with 1641 people taking their own lives in 2018 alone, contributing about 1.3 percent of all deaths.

Helpline Zimbabwe Trust director Eunice Hove said most of the suicide cases are done out of frustration.

She added that the scourge is even affecting primary school pupils.

“It’s basically frustration from interruptions of their lessons due to the effects of covid-19 pandemic lockdown, helplessness and desperation from lack of financial stability and dependence on parents. They then resort to peer pressure, substance abuse and find comfort in their peers. So whenever they feel rejected by their peers they resort to taking their lives.

“The suicidal tendencies, apparently are affecting youth of all age groups from those at university, secondary school and even primary school,” she said.

Another case is of a Great Zimbabwe University student, Desire Mungoma who committed suicide in Ashdon Park after a misunderstanding with his girlfriend only identified as Paula.

“This can be attributed to the bad state of the economy, where girls are enticed by rich older men who use material resources to lure them at the expense of their younger and ‘poor’ mates who in turn fail to comprehend this loss and end up committing suicide. Moreover, the absence of psychosocial support and counselling services in tertiary institutions and communities at large have made the situation worse.

“Counsellors could help youths come to terms with the loss of a lover. The absence of a coherent family unit that should also play a role in supporting their loved ones emotionally regarding issues to do with relationships-is another missing factor,” said Youth Alliance for Democracy (YAD) Director Tichaona Masiyambiri.

According to Wellness Insight psychologists, issues to deal with love or attachment have no quick fix.

“These issues don’t have a quick fix unfortunately. Societal mindsets don’t tend to shift that quickly especially when they reach a crisis stage as we are at now.

“This has been brewing for some time and we continue to watch and do nothing older people are there, but there is disconnect between generations and their value base. That impacts the support young mothers get to nurture their young,” they said.

According to experts from 2015 to 2019, 2,058 men died by suicide as compared to 505 females during the same period in Zimbabwe with latest statistic yet to be released.

Wedza based traditional healer Muchaneta Chipuka said most suicides are being triggered by avenging spirits.

“As people are now disregarding rituals associated with the issue of avenging spirits due to modernity, we are going to witness more deaths of this nature. In our culture committing suicide is associated with bad omen and this is the reason why those who die do not get a befitting burial. They are also not buried at a family graveyard,” he said.

According to Crude there are over 34 000 suicides per year in the African continent, with an incidence rate of rate of 3.2 per 100 000. The recent Global Burden of Disease (GBD) said suicide rates in men are typically at least three times higher than in women with the most frequently used methods being hanging and pesticide poisoning. It added that suicide is prevalent between the 15 and 44 age group. Though most people believe that committing suicide is inspired by evil spirits, a number of youths in Zimbabwe have adopted it as a way of esca

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