When dark thoughts come to mind

HAVE you ever read about someone who has taken their own life and wondered what could have been going through their mind before that fateful moment? Well I do, often.

What I find strange is that often the grieving relatives or friends of the victim would say that the person was just fine, and showed no outward sign of unhappiness or depression before committing suicide. Very few tend to say, “I always try and speak to her/him, asking if everything is fine,” especially in the black community because it’s assumed that knowing about someone’s mental health is not important.

Well, mental health is a real concern all over the world. Many have turned to self-harm because they are secretly hurting, dying inside and have desperately sought other methods of relief, such as alcohol and drugs, which offers only temporary respite from the misery, because the clouds of intoxication seem to numb the pain, but no one ever noticed the underlying problem. Even worse no one seems to care.

It may seem like the sufferers just love alcohol and have nothing better to do with their lives. To many it seems the bottle and drugs is the best option to nurse their pains, because reaching out “wouldn’t be of any help anyways.”

I am not saying that alcohol and drugs are the solution to tackling mental illness, but simply pointing out that sometimes when someone has given up on themselves it’s not because they wanted to but because failure is the only thing they are sure of.

However, suicide has not just one but many victims and there is no second chance guaranteed, so one should rather seek professional help if suicidal thoughts recur.

Studies have found that one trait common to families affected by teenage suicide is poor communication between parents and their children. Evidence shows that suicidal people are not necessarily insane or psychotic but may be upset, grief-stricken, in despair or depressed and having an opportunity to talk about their feelings may reduce the risk of self-harm.

We can all do our part to help one another. There is nothing wrong with encouraging a person affected by psychological ill health to communicate with you about their problem. They might be bottling up feelings because of shame, guilt or embarrassment, and talking about it can help. Sometimes it helps just to listen, to be understanding and supportive without placing blame.

* If you are experiencing abuse, trauma and/or suicidal thoughts you can speak to a counsellor at the following toll-free numbers: Lifeline/Childline Namibia 061-226889; Child line 116; GBV Helpline 106; Crisis Line 061-232221.

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