While it is not the most talked about topic in Botswana, the rate of suicide in the country is still one of the major concerns.
Since the beginning of this year there have been a few reports of people who committed suicide, some of the reports coming from the police asking members of the public to come forward to help identify the deceased. Mental health professionals have long called on the government to have a national strategy providing guidance on how to reduce the rate of suicide in Botswana.
In May 2013, the 66th World Health Assembly adopted the first ever Mental Health Action Plan of the World Health Organisation, which implored countries to reduce the rate of suicide by 10%.
Are we as a country making deliberate effort to reduce the rate of suicide? Not really, mental health is one of the least talked about subjects in the country. Do we have enough resources to ensure that access to mental health services is improved? We are not even close. While Mental Health Practitioners try their level best to disseminate information on mental health with the little resources at their disposal, there is still a lot that Botswana needs to do as a country.
Mental health needs to be given the same attention as other life threatening ailments. Research has shown that 46% of people who commit suicide had a known mental health condition.It is not a secret that many individuals in our country still do not
There is yet another challenge we face in our society, which could be due to lack of knowledge on mental health. Children usually show signs of mental health conditions at an early stage, but parents or guardians of the children usually confuse some of the signs with a child being naughty. The leading causes of suicide in Botswana are depression, substance abuse, social and financial problems, and other mental illnesses.
The government should ensure that all Batswana who need mental health services have access to professionals without having to travel long distances to access a mental health facility.
Availability of mental health service facilities around the country would ensure that people get assisted on time, which may help greatly in the reduction of suicide-related deaths. Statistics have shown suicide mostly affects young people between the ages of 15 and 29 years, hence the need to target all segments of the society when educating people on mental health.