Our grim suicide reality

Worrying statistics indicate that Namibia is ranked fourth on the continent and 11th globally for its suicide rate.

04 April 2019 | Social Issues

An estimated 25 000 Namibians attempted suicide in 2015, while 2 331 Namibians died by suicide between 2011 and 2015.

The high number of suicides in the country prompted the health ministry to conduct a study in 2016, which described suicide as a major public health concern. The majority of suicides, 85.5%, were by hanging, followed by shooting (10.5%). A small number of people (1.2%) died by overdosing on drugs, and an equal number used poison or other toxic substances such as battery acid to end their lives. Very few people drowned themselves, cut their wrists or jumped from high places.

Of the 2 331 people who died, 84.4% were men and 15.6% women. The study found that men are five times more likely to die by suicide than women, but women more likely than men to attempt suicide or harbour suicidal thoughts. Another finding was that most suicides are committed by people between 20 and 39 years old. Only about 5% of the

2 331 people who died by suicide left a suicide note. The report also found that only one in 10 people who have attempted suicide had reached out for help.

Of the 90% who had not reached out, one third argued that it would not have made a difference or that others would not understand. The report found that the Oshana Region had the highest suicide rate in the country, followed by Otjozondjupa, Ohangwena, Hardap and Omusati.

Alarm bells

According to 2015 data, Namibia's suicide rate is 22.1 per 100 000 people - double the global average of 11.4 suicides per 100 000 people.

In Africa, Namibia is rated as the country with the fourth highest suicide rate and globally, the country ranks 11th.

Nearly 54% of the survey respondents said they knew someone who had committed suicide. “In Namibia, as elsewhere in the world, self-directed violence is a serious social, economic and public health concern and challenge that has a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities,” former health minister Bernhard Haufiku states in the foreword of the study report, released in October 2018.

The report contains a number of recommendations for the development of a policy to guide suicide prevention, treatment and management.

Although suicide is serious public health concern, it is preventable through proactive and coordinated responses, the report states.


While more than half of the respondents in the study felt that family and friends would be open to discussing suicidal thoughts, only 38.9% felt the community as a whole was open to such discussions.

Moreover, more than 64% said their communities regarded suicide as a sin, which constituted a barrier to reaching out for help. The study also found that when people contemplating suicide reach out, there is often a lack of help available. “Even when family, friends and religious leaders are sympathetic, they lack the skills to be able to offer the support needed, and they do not refer the at-risk person to formal service providers.

“Limited access, lack of understanding of how to secure services, and concerns about the ability of service providers to help are also determinants.”

Yet the study also found that most of those who had reached out after an attempted suicide did not repeat the attempt. The study emphasises that suicide has no demographic, geographic and socio-economic boundaries; it affects rich and poor countries alike.

Namibian police statistics also show that there is little difference between the suicide rates in urban and rural areas.

In 2014, the World Health Organisation estimated that each year more than 800 000 people die by suicide, and 20 times more people attempt suicide.

It is estimated that by 2020, global suicides will increase to 1.5 million a year.


Similar News


Deadbeat dads

5 days ago - 21 May 2019 | Social Issues

Although Namibian law holds both parents equally responsible for meeting the basic needs of their children, nearly half of households are run by single mothers,...

Confusion over shack baby

1 week ago - 15 May 2019 | Social Issues

The mother of a three-month-old baby girl who the City Police confirmed had died at the end of April after she and her three young...

Blaauw makes a difference

1 week ago - 14 May 2019 | Social Issues

Mariselle Stofberg and Michelline NawatisesTylo Blaauw has raised funds to have an air conditioner installed at an old-age home and also handed over a cheque...

Our grim suicide reality

1 month - 04 April 2019 | Social Issues

An estimated 25 000 Namibians attempted suicide in 2015, while 2 331 Namibians died by suicide between 2011 and 2015. The high number of...

No bed, no food, only God's grace

1 month - 02 April 2019 | Social Issues

With no bed to sleep on, no food to eat and a mahangu field that is likely to yield no harvest this year, an elderly...

Women should aim for presidency - Geingos

2 months ago - 11 March 2019 | Social Issues

First Lady Monica Geingos has told women that they must aim to become president instead of first lady.Geingos was speaking during an interview with the...

Sixteen and pregnant

2 months ago - 04 March 2019 | Social Issues

Namibian Sun caught up with Anna Kastoor (not her real name) at Kalkrand. She left school when she was in Grade 7 because her family...

Govt neglects street kids

5 months ago - 17 December 2018 | Social Issues

A University of Namibia (Unam) study has found that only 3% of the 217 street children surveyed had received social grants, while a mere 5.53%...

Street kids want to zula

5 months ago - 11 December 2018 | Social Issues

A Unam study has found that street children return to the streets where they engage in prostitution, mainly because they get used to being their...

Everyone is struggling

6 months ago - 20 November 2018 | Social Issues

Poverty eradication minister Zephania Kameeta has slammed those who criticise the government's food bank initiative, saying even those critics with so-called good salaries are finding...

Latest News

10% water hike coming

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Disasters

The City of Windhoek has proposed a 10% water and 5% sewer tariff hike to come into effect in July. The City's recently announced...

Low earners excluded from drought...

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Disasters

Households with a combined income of more than N$2 600 will not qualify for state drought assistance, which has effectively excluded even low-level civil servants...

How did we get here?

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Opinion

How did we get to a situation, as a country, where our government is asking already struggling workers to donate 2% of the salaries as...

AMTA ends Fysal agreement

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Agriculture

Fysal Fresh Produce is to retrench 60 employees at the end of this month after its contract with the Agro-Marketing Trading Agency (AMTA) was terminated....

Geingob grills Nanso

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Education

The Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) leadership received a grilling from President Hage Geingob on Wednesday during a meeting to discuss a number of issues,...

Fallout over 2% tax

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Economics

Political parties and analysts have called on the government to abandon a plan to introduce a “voluntary” 2% tax to fund drought relief.Prime Minister Saara...

Bild challenges Guibeb

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | International

The German newspaper Bild has rubbished a claim by the Namibian ambassador to Germany, Andreas Guibeb, that no arrest warrant had been issued against him.The...

Namibia ranks poorly for diversity

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Cultural

For a country that is described by many as one of the most diverse in the world, Namibia has ranked fairly poorly in a new...

Business ponders mass exodus

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Business

A recent survey by the Economic Policy Research Association (EPRA) of close to 600 businesses concerned about the government's policy direction shows that a staggering...

Load More