Alcohol linked to high suicide rate

29 May 2019 | Social Issues

Namibia has once again been fingered as one of the African countries with the highest per capita alcohol consumption, which could also explain its high suicide and murder rates according to the latest study on global health statistics.

The World Health Statistics report, published annually since 2005, is the World Health Organisation's annual snapshot of the state of the world's health.

According to the latest report Namibia is among the ten African countries with the highest alcohol consumption, and is ranked sixth.

The study indicates that Namibians over the age of 15 consumed on average 9.8 litres of pure alcohol in 2016. The consumption of male drinkers stood at 17.3 litres of pure alcohol per capita, while women consumed 2.9 litres of pure alcohol per capita.

Nigeria had the heaviest drinkers, consuming 13.4 litres of pure alcohol per capita, followed by Seychelles (12 litres), Gabon (11.5 litres), Equatorial Guinea (11.3 litres) and Eswatini (9.9 litres).

Niger consumed the smallest amount of alcohol at 0.5 litres per capita.

On average, men consumed far more alcohol than women worldwide in 2016 (10.1 litres versus 2.7 litres of pure alcohol per person).

The largest consumption for both sexes was in high-income countries in the European Region, and the smallest in low-income countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. The largest male to female ratios were observed in the Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asian and African regions.

“The high average alcohol consumption in men is likely to be one of the drivers of men's excess rates of suicide mortality relative to women,” the report states.

The statistics indicate that 8.7 per 100 000 people in Namibia committed suicide in 2016. The suicide mortality rate for men stood at 14.1 per 100 000 while for women it was 3.6 per 100 000. s

Worldwide, suicide mortality rates dropped by 16% (men) and 20% (women) between the years 2000 and 2016.

In 2016, nearly 800 000 deaths worldwide were due to suicide, equivalent to a rate of 10.6 per 100 000 people.

Globally, for every female suicide death, there are nearly two male deaths (13.5 and 7.7 deaths per 100 000 population in men and women, respectively).

“Although suicide attempts are about two to four times more frequent among females, men are more likely to use lethal means, partly explaining the reversed pattern in suicide mortality rates,” the report states.

Men in the European Region and in high-income countries suffer from the highest suicide mortality rates (24.7 and 21.0 per 100 000 population, respectively).

The highest female suicide mortality rates were seen in the South-East Asian Region (11.6 per 100 000 population) and in lower-middle-income countries (8.8 per 100 000 population). The lowest were seen in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, and in low-income countries, for both men and women.

Furthermore, the report added that the mortality rate due to homicide in Namibia was 18.3 per 100 000. For men it stood at 32 per 100 000 and for women it was 5.3 per 100 000.

According to the report there were an estimated 477 000 deaths globally due to homicides in 2016.

Men are almost four times more likely to be murdered than women. Risk factors for homicide include poverty, availability of guns and alcohol.

“Globally, one in five homicides is committed by an intimate partner or family member, with women making up the majority of those deaths.”

The report says preventing homicide and nonfatal violence requires a multisectoral approach that addresses underlying causes, such as gender, social and economic inequalities; cultural norms that support violence; and easy access to and misuse of alcohol, drugs and firearms.

ELLANIE SMIT

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