Rwanda Gov’t scaling up efforts to curb rising cases of Suicide in the country

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By our correspondent

The Rwanda government is working to ensure that mental health services are accessible everywhere, as well as raising awareness about the alarming symptoms of mental health issues that can lead to suicide.

This was shared by Claire Nancy Misago, Director of Community Mental Health at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), ahead of the suicide prevention awareness month which starts on September 10 and end on October 10.

Recent statistics from Rwanda Investigation Bureau show that between June 2019 and July 2021, at least 579 people committed suicide. Also, the number of people who accessed mental health clinical services and reported they had attempted to commit suicide doubled between 2020 and 2021, according to information from Rwanda Biomedical Centre.

In line with the month, Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) in collaboration with Solid Minds Counselling Clinic are organising an awareness campaign on suicide prevention, starting with youth.

Claire said that such efforts will also push into action those around ‘victims’ as well as themselves to seek help.

However, she says while the rise in numbers of people seeking help indicates progress, the obstacles still prevail, and mental health in Rwanda remains a challenge.

On September 10, the world marked World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). The day focuses attention on the suicide issue, reduces stigma, and raises awareness among organisations, the government, and the public, giving a singular message that suicide can be prevented.

An estimated 703,000 people a year take their life around the world. For every suicide, there are likely 20 other people making a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide. Millions of people suffer intense grief or are otherwise profoundly impacted by suicidal behaviours, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

A study conducted by RBC in 2018, also showed that only 30 percent of the people who met the criteria for having mental disorders sought mental health support.

Those who never sought the services cited challenges such as fear of stigma, limited financial means, and limited access to the services, while others said they were unaware of the urgency of the services.

According to Dr. Jean-Pierre Ndagijimana, a Clinical Psychologist at Solid Minds, a counselling Clinic based in Kacyiru, committing suicide comes after multiple attempts that end up in resistance.

He said some people then opt to take drugs to chase the ‘doubtful voices telling them to take their lives,’ which only pushes them to suicide.

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