He patiently waited for the day he would break free. He reasoned a great deal and all thoughts pointed towards the day he would think no more. He longed for that moment with suppressed hints that silently slipped past onlookers’ eyes.
His life had taken a swift turn for the worse as he felt no one appreciated his efforts and successes. To him, nobody seemed to care about his predicament, an inner battle that ate away at his self-beliefs.
The community thought he was one of those failed youngsters seeking solace in guzzling cheap spirits. His religious community members labelled him a lost sheep. His family tried to save him from himself, but he often withdrew from public life.
Everyone around him thought he had given up on life, but his fight for sanity continued. He chose to face ‘his demons’ alone until he hoped no more hope. He committed suicide, fleeing the shame the rope evokes in this society where boys do not cry and where a tree from which person hangs himself is felled.
That person could be you, except you have lived to look back at how depressing episodes in life can push people to the limits.
Police have recorded 125 suicide cases in the past seven months—and a staggering 121 involved boys and men. Both adults and young people bear the brunt of the country’s neglected mental health.
Mental health is health like any other and mental problems are mostly not an open topic. Those affected find it difficult to come out and freely talk about their problems without someone raising an eyebrow.
This is what pushes some people to deaths that could be prevented if we treated mental problems as we treat malaria and diarrhoea.
Mental health problems are caused by an array of factors ranging from one’s upbringing, substance abuse, depression, socio- economic hardship and trauma. However, social and economic problems are often underrated.
Yes, everyone expect good things in life, especially after acquiring some hard-earned skills and education, but life can be cruel. Sometimes, what we expect is not what we get.
The consequences of the unmet expectation can be disastrous. No wonder, the country’s massive unemployment rate is silently pushing the youth to the grave.
Countries like ours should do more to tackle depression, a mental illness that kills millions globally.
Sadly, we do not give it the attention and status it deserves until it hits us and our beloved, reducing its targets to suicidal wrecks.
Depressing is not thinking too much, as it is often sanitised. It is a neglected killer that thrives on loss of jobs, business and other sources of income as well as loved ones. Other catalysts include chronic illnesses, marriage breakdown, debts and stress.
However, many families, friends, health workers and onlookers ignore the signs and symptoms, hoping the ‘moments of madness’ will vanish on their own. Just like that, the silent killer keeps claiming lives.
Although most mental problems are easily treated or managed if society listens and seeks medical treatment in time, not many get the help they need.
A problem shared is half solved, the good ole saying goes. In a cultural context that screams ‘mind your own business’, it is imperative to listen to the inner voices of the people around us and help each other accept difficult situations no matter how painful they might be.
Unfortunately, the country has few mental hospitals. Expanding access to quality mental health facilities and personnel is a step forward in addressing the deadly impacts of depression and other mental conditions. The country is losing people with great potential to these treatable conditions. n