Workers of the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Health Services have committed to promote mental health and prevent suicide in the community through awareness-raising. The commitment was part of the activities marking the World Mental Health Day 2019, last October 10.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide is a global public health problem claiming over 800,000 lives every year; ‘with someone somewhere losing his life every 40 seconds’. “Suicide affects people of all ages in all countries. However, nearly 80% of suicides occur in low and middle-income countries, owing to limited mental health services and resources for assisting and supporting those in need,” details WHO.
It should be noted that out of every one completed suicide, there are over 20 more attempts. People who survive the first attempt are at high risk of making a further attempt, so, particular attention is needed for providing ongoing support. On the contrary, often in our society, survivors of suicidal attempts and the families of those who complete suicide are the object of scorn and suffer a great deal of stigmatization.
Despite the threat suicide poses to the community, there is widespread silence on the problem. Etheldreda Ndong, Nurse Practitioner, in charge of Mental Health Services at BHM says the untold silence is, as a result, of certain myths.
“Most often suicide is likened to be a minute problem, in some cases, people think to talk about it will incite those who attempt suicide to actually try it out, at times people think suicidal behavior is just attention-seeking, while others think once someone is considering suicide there is nothing I [we] can do about it. These are just some of the myths,” she said.
Given the gravity of the problem, Etheldreda says it is time to no longer consider suicide as a taboo subject but admit that people do harbor suicidal thoughts, and having open discussions will protect those at risk. “It is time to erase the stigma around suicide….,” she added.
The focus at this year’s World Mental Health Day was “Mental health promotion and suicide prevention”. In line with suicide prevention, WHO is calling on all to take 40 seconds of action to; improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a global health problem, improve knowledge of what ought to and should be done to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and support those struggling with suicide.
“Suicide is preventable and can therefore be avoided, which is why all of our efforts and public policies should focus on prevention,” says Dr. Alberto Trimboli, President of World Federation for Mental Health.
It’s worth stating that suicide is death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result.
Presenting the Director of Health Services’ address to all institutions of Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Health Services, Mr. Nfor Gamgong Emmanuel, BHM’s Assistant Administrator in charge of Personnel stressed that suicide is a health problem which deserves the attention of all actors including mental health specialists, scientific and professional organizations, universities, service users and families to create an enabling environment that can embrace mental health services.
The commemoration of this year’s World Mental Health day was within a peculiar context bedeviled by the socio-political unrest in the Northwest and Southwest Regions.
Conjecturing from the current situation which can be at the root of a ‘Mental Health Crisis’ in the country, Prof. Tih Pius, Director of Health Services calls on all, especially health workers to always be alert. “We should be equipped to identify early signs, provide basic management and make appropriate referrals when and where necessary,” advised the Public Health expert.
World Mental Health Day is an annual event set aside by the World Federation of Mental Health to raise awareness about Mental Health and to break the stigma associated with services and patients.