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If you are reading this, it means you have not committed suicide. If you have not committed suicide then you have every reason to thank the Almighty God, or whichever god you believe in; for protecting you against exposure to situations that could force you to commit suicide. Early in the week a close ally of mine shared a touching statement that I would also like to share with you all.

“People commit suicide because nobody takes time to understand their pain. They are told to move on as if it’s that simple. How do you move on from loneliness? How do you ‘grow up’ from being a rape survivor? People are traumatised. 
People are unloved, unwanted. Doors are shut in their faces. Everybody has an opinion but nobody is willing to trade places. You think it’s fun to jump off a building? You think it’s fun to overdose< Cut yourself and watch the life slip out of you? People don’t do these things for attention.

Depression is real. Anxiety is real. Loneliness is real. People don’t wake up one day and decide to be alcoholics. People don’t wake up one day to become drug addicts.  People don’t wake up one day to be suicidal. A lot happens before that. That is one piece of the puzzle.”

Despite having read it over and over again in the past three days, I have not been able to understand why people commit suicide.
I then sat and thought to myself, “Do I really need to understand why people commit suicide?” I did not have an answer to that either.

The rate at which our sisters, brothers, children, parents and friends are taking away their own lives is very high.
Some of us were very close to people who committed suicide, while others only read about it from the newspapers.
I am among the few people who have worked closely on suicide incidents for, about 14 years now.

There is no week that goes by without media reports on suicides and just last year alone the country recorded 125 cases, which essentially means about 10 people kill themselves each month.
Actually, about three years ago Eswatini was rated fourth in the world in terms of suicide statistics by worldlife expectancy.
In my line of duty I have engaged with psychologists, police and all sorts of experts while trying to pursue one of my core mandates; which is to educate and give hope.

There are so many possible causes and reasons that these elite people present in their analyses of each and every suicide case I have engaged them about it.
But still, I do not know why people commit suicide.
I have realised how difficult it is to imagine what led a friend, family member, or child to commit suicide.

In some of the cases there are no warning signs, and you may wonder what clues you might have missed in the couple of days or hours prior to the act.
Psychologists have often said sometimes many factors combine to lead to a decision to commit suicide.
It could often be an act made during a storm of strong emotions and life stresses rather than after careful consideration.
My mind never stops thinking about this issue though.

I know it has been deliberated on in many forums; during school debates, in church, at teen clubs, in hospitals and at homes and drinking holes.
But still, I see the need to keep talking about it because the cases are rising each and every day and just about any member of this society, regardless of age group, gender or religion – is committing suicide.

As a parent, sometimes I am hesitant whether or not to punish my teen son or any of my daughters for wrongdoing because I am not sure how they will react.
They may, out of anger, decide to end their lives.

I know of many women who are stuck in love relationships they so much want to pull out of, but they are afraid their to-be axes might commit suicide.
What does this mean then? Should we get to the deepest level of compromise and live a lie because we are scared the people close to us may kill themselves.
Definitely there should be a solution to this pandemic; actually I am looking forward to the day it will be declared a national crisis.
It’s a fact we cannot ban most of the chemical substances that some people have used to kill themselves and the main reasons are that a) they exist for a specific purpose and b) if someone wants to commit suicide, they will always find another way.

The causes of suicide are many and varied, largely influenced by depression. These causes include: Personal history – psychological trauma may haunt the individual until he/she opts for a drastic choice of escape from life’s problems; Mental health – schizophrenia and other mental health issues; Lifestyle habits – drug and/or alcohol abuse; Employment status – unemployment or poor job satisfaction may be contributing factors; Relationships – not enough social support and social isolation; and Genetics-family history.

Things that can help bring you back on track when you fell suicidal include: seeking treatment, care and support for mental health concerns—and building a good relationship with a doctor or other health professionals; building social support networks, such as family, friends, a peer support or support group, or connections with a cultural or faith community; and learning good coping skills to deal with problems, and trusting in coping abilities.

In my endeavour to find a solution to suicides, I came across a question that doubles as an acronym. If the whole phrase marks negative throughout, then all is well, but just one positive means there is a possibility of a suicide and the appropriate action must be taken. IS PATH WARM?

I—Ideation: thinking about suicide. S—Substance use: problems with drugs or alcohol. P—Purposelessness: feeling like there is no purpose in life or reason for living. A—Anxiety: feeling intense anxiety or feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. T—Trapped: feeling trapped or feeling like there is no way out of a situation. H—Hopelessness or Helplessness: feeling no hope for the future, feeling like things will never get better. W—Withdrawal: avoiding family, friends, or activities. A—Anger: feeling unreasonable anger. R—Recklessness: engaging in risky or harmful activities normally avoided. M—Mood change: a significant change in mood. Once again! Let’s thank God we’re alive.

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