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Lombe Kamukoshi.

Central Province police to address suicide

ON June 17 this year, Kingsley Mwelwa of Cecilia Chimbila village in Serenje, who was believed to be in his 20s, allegedly hanged himself to a tree after he quarreled with his wife.
His death came four days after Machisa Shampota of Kabwe’s mine area, who was in his 30s, committed suicide by throwing himself in a dam after an alleged marital dispute.
In the same month, Janet Menela of Luano district, who was in her 70s, committed suicide after she was allegedly accused of practising witchcraft.
Menela allegedly took her life after members of her family accused her of being a witch. Her death came four days after another septuagenarian of Serenje identified as Danny Simenti hanged himself in his house after also being accused of being a wizard.
On July 9, Moses Chibuye, 36, of Chief Chibale’s area in Serenje allegedly hanged himself to a tree using his belt. The reasons why he hanged himself are not known.
Before that, on May 23, Ben Mulembe aged 34 of Kapiri Mposhi allegedly hanged himself to a tree about 500 metres from his house using a wire.
On the same day, Martin Mwelaisho, 36, a flight sergeant in the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) based in Kabwe was reported to have booked a room at a local guest house, and while there, he allegedly drank two bottles of doom, a pesticide, in an effort to kill himself.
On April 28, 50-year-old Doreen Telabula of Chief Muchinda’s area in Serenje, allegedly committed suicide after she was caught committing adultery with another man.
Her death came after Humphrey Makoleka, a 30-year-old of Zambia Compound in Serenje, allegedly committed suicide by drinking suspected acid at his home in protest against his neighbour, whom he suspected of impregnating his daughter.
These are some of the cases that have been brought to the attention of the Zambia Police Service in Central Province so far this year.
Indications so far are that suicide cases in the Kabwe policing area covering Kabwe, Chibombo and Chisamba districts are increasing. The Kapiri Mposhi policing area includes Kapiri Mposhi, Mkushi and Luano districts while Serenje covers Serenje and Chitambo with Itezhi Tezhi falling under Mumbwa district.
“In 2015, Central Province recorded a total number of 29 suicide cases. From January 2016 to August 2016, statistics so far are indicating an increase in the number of reported cases to 40, and this is a source of concern for the province,” says Central Province commissioner of police Lombe Kamukoshi.
In 2016 from January to August, Kabwe recorded 26 cases of suicide while Kapiri Mposhi had eight, Serenje four and Mumbwa two.
In 2015, Kabwe district recorded 13, Kapiri Mposhi nine with Serenje and Mumbwa having four and three, respectively.
“The high number of cases reported in Kabwe district may be attributed to its wider catchment area that it covers and also the fact that it is the headquarters of Central Province and has a higher population as compared to the other policing districts,” Ms Kamukoshi says.
The commissioner of police attributes the rising cases of suicide in Kabwe, Chibombo, Chisamba, Kapiri Mposhi, Mkushi, Luano, Serenje and Chitambo districts to HIV and AIDS, infidelity, marital disputes, loss of employment which lead to stress and economic hardships.
Chronic diseases such as HIV and AIDS are a leading cause of suicide cases in the province because when some people fail to come to terms with the fact that they are HIV-positive, they opt to take their own lives.
On the other hand, suicide cases resulting from economic hardships are mostly common among young men and this happens when they fail to find employment.
That Mumbwa and Itezhi Tezhi districts have the lowest number of suicide cases is attributed to the fact that they are semi-rural areas which do not have many activities as people mainly depend on agriculture to earn a living.
“The reasons for committing suicide vary and in some cases people do not leave any suicide notes,” Ms Kamukoshi says.
She says for those that have written suicide notes or explained their grief verbally to their families and friends, the major reasons they give for committing suicide are diseases, marital disputes and economic hardships.
Kabwe General Hospital principal clinical officer Shangu Kaina says people attempt suicide for various reasons such as disappointments, depression, fear (of the outcome of certain actions), chronic diseases, poverty, gender-based violence, bankruptcy and substance abuse.
But Mr Kaina says attempting suicide is not the solution to the consequences of certain actions or failure to solve daunting life challenges.
He says any situation has a solution, and he urges people contemplating committing suicide to seek help.
Mr Kaina, who screens patients at the psychiatric department, says counselling is one way of helping people who may otherwise want to commit suicide.
“Everyone needs counselling from birth up to death. Sometimes, we can be depressed or be under intense pressure. In such situations, we need to take things easy,” says Mr Kaina, who is a psychiatrist.
“People need to accept that in certain things such as disappointments, they may not have solutions but attempting suicide is not the solution [because] with time things will normalise.”
Police in Central province are treating cases of suicide as a serious problem.
Through the Central Division Headquarters’ criminal investigations department, they are planning on holding sensitisation programmes to address cases of suicides.
Ms Kamukoshi says the programmes will include engaging communities in partnership with stakeholders and also reaching out to the people through radio programmes.