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Tag: Self Harm

When Life is Just too Hard to Deal With: 13 yr old girl commits suicide!!

Image via Wikipedia

Reading the paper today, this story caught my eye. Girl, 13, Commits Suicide.

Apparently, thirteen (13) year old Abigail who lives with her Aunt (Beatrice) in Takoradi decided that life was just too much for her to deal with. This child hanged herself for what she claims to be unfounded accusations of promiscuity and theft. A day after reporting the suicide to the police, Beatrice produced a “suicide note” in which Abigail is said to have stated that a colleague and friend of Beatrice’s (Sophia) had accused her of stealing phone cards and a charger. The little girl went on in her note to state that her aunt had accused her of flirting, and most importantly, denied those claims.

Perhaps I’m being picky, but shouldn’t the police when they investigated the scene, have discovered the note? What sort of detective work did they do? If you come across a suicide scene, isn’t the first thing you do after checking to see if there is any sign of a pulse to look for a note?

I wonder who this little girl was. I may not have known her, but I wish I knew who she was and what happened to her. I think about whether or not she had NO ONE to talk to about the persecution she felt she was facing. I’m wondering how bad it had to be for her to decide to end it all. I’ve already given her a profile in my head. Most likely she is orphaned and living with the only relative who would have her. Or perhaps her parents are incapable of caring for her and chose to send her to stay with a better off relation, as is often the case here in Ghana.

My question is, how did this child come to the conclusion that she could go to no one for help? Was there not a pastor she spoke to? A playmate? A concerned neighbour? If it was that bad, could she not have run away? Why did she feel there was nothing else out there for her?

I wish someone could have saved her from her demons, real or imagined as they may be. I figure what disturbed me most was how in the “Weekend Mirror” an “observer” was quoted to have said that the girl killed herself to cover up her crimes. That person hinted that Abigail may have been pregnant and may have killed herself to avoid punishment. Grr. I sincerely doubt that anyone, choosing to end their life for a crime they committed, would choose to leave the sort of note Abigail did. Most likely, she would have apologised for her crimes in the note. It would take a truly bitter soul to leave a farewell note declaring themselves innocent of a crime they committed. Like, think of it. If you’re leaving the world anyway, why hide your sins? It doesn’t gel with me. This girl in whatever state she was in, still felt the need to declare her innocence. And goodbye she wrote out in capital letters? She made it very clear who it was she was running from. If she truly were pregnant, would she not have given some explanation on that? Perhaps an apology for killing her unborn child?

So now, I feel terrible for her aunt, who most likely did not realise what was going on. Surely, she never meant to harm the girl. It’s quite probable that there were reasons for her to believe Abigail was headed for trouble and she acted the only way she knew how. How can this woman feel now, taking the blame for this tragedy?

Whether she is responsible or not, I doubt there is any way that she will be able to get out of this without feeling guilty. Little Abigail did far more than take her own life. She marked at least one woman for life and most likely ruined their reputations. This woman will forever blame herself for not seeing this coming, for not dealing with the situation properly, for not listening…..you know us humans; even without the note, she’d make herself responsible.

This raises a lot of issues about the way children are raised in this country. How much is too much chastising and ridiculing? When is it not okay to call a child up, sit them down and tell them to the face that their actions are wrong? When should you give up on correcting a child and guiding them on the right path?

This is where counseling services would be helpful in Ghana. Sure, a person has committed suicide, but what of the people who are left behind, those that feel guilty? Who is to save them from sinking into the same states that their friends and loved ones were in?

I feel that if we had better child services, if CHRAJ and WAJU and other social services were running properly in this country……would Abigail still be alive? I’m wondering how many more cases such as this will have to occur before something is done in this country and wish that people who have the Know How will step forward and DO SOMETHING about mental health issues in Ghana. At least our children should have one place they can go to when they feel oppressed and depressed.

It’s bad enough when adults who should know better commit suicide but when our children turn to it? We should know by now that we have a problem and our Nations leaders should quit arguing about which members of parliament are homosexuals and actually get down to doing their work. People like Derrick Adjei, should be talking about ways to keep our youth from pulling stunts like this, not mouthing off about Akuffo Addos’s supposed diminutive stature. Just you wait! Your time in Daixy’s corner will come sooner than you think.

~Daixy~

related posts:
Daixy on Suicide Prevention day
Daixy on Suicide Debunked
Links within posts

When life is just too hard to deal with: Myths debunked

“Ghanaians don’t get depressed,”  This comment had me laughing early last week.  “it’s americans like you who flip out over everything.”   
First of all, I am very much a Ghanaian.  I simply open myself up to other cultures 😛 
Second, just cuz I’ve had a very interesting past and it’s scarred me a bit doesn’t mean I’m mentally unsound.  Why should it take a crazy person to think about steps to prevent suicide? I find it odd that the second I try to talk about rape, abuse, suicide or depression, it becomes a game of driving nails into dry concrete with me bare fingers!
Third, dealing with my issues shouldn’t stop me from facing up to reality and saying, I want to do something about this.  Doesn’t have to stop me from starting whatever movement I want or lobbying my local MP or regional health director for infrastructure I believe should be in place. And now that that rant is over, I can get down to the business off the day.
What I’d like to do today is debunk a few myths about self harm and suicide.  I can’t cover them all and I’m not going to explain what they are.  Links below should be sufficient methinks….
Suicide rates per 100,000 peopleImage via Wikipedia 
Myth:  Suicides don’t occur in Ghana.
Fact:  Suicide occurs all over the world. In fact, it is the 10th leading cause of death globally. Over a million people commit suicide every year all over the world.  Sadly, no one seems to be collecting data on suicide in Ghana and most of Africa.  We do not as yet have the necessary systems in place for reporting and recording of suicide attempts and successes. The map above is as accurate as the WHO can make it.  Without actual data, there is nothing they or any other organisation can do.
To save face, families in Ghana bribe police officers and medical practitioners into changing the cause of death.  This is most especially so when they are christian.  As such, the police and hospitals here very rarely report such cases.
Myth: People hurt themselves or attempt suicide for attention.
Fact: Au contraire. People who self harm are simply trying to feel, something anything. They usually are detached from this world and feel they are alone, unloved, repressed. Cutting, burning, they turn to pain as they cannot feel happiness, love. Other times, they are punishing themselves for some crime they perceive they committed.  A lot of people suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) will do this. Quite often they have suffered physical or sexual abuse and are unable to deal with the psychological fallout.  The result therefore is a need to externalize the pain, to “make it real.”
Myth: People who talk about suicide are looking for attention.
Fact: People who talk about suicide are reaching out for help. They’ve thought about it and are scared that they’ll actually go through with it.
Myth:  If you’re depressed, just make yourself happy.  Snap out of it.
Fact:  If it was that easy, your friend, family member, colleague wouldn’t have the cuts, burns and bruises they do, and most importantly?  They wouldn’t be thinking of ending it.
Myth:  Suicide occurs without warming.

Fact:  Usually, suicide victims will leave some sort of clue as to what they intend to do.  There is always some verbal or behavioural hint. Most often though, these clues are ignored or not taken seriously.

Myth:  Asking someone if they are thinkingof suicide will plant the idea in their head.
Fact: Talking about suicide will NOT give a person who is not considering it ideas.  If you feel the need to ask someone this question, then most likely they’ve left clues that led you to that conclusion.  Asking them will not make them go out and do it. A lot of suicidal persons will be relieved to have someone ask them about it.  It’s a huge burden to bear by oneself and someone who has been struggling with the urge and wants a friend to talk to will actually be grateful for the opportunity to share some of their fears.
Myth:  Once a person has attempted suicide, he or she will never try it again.
Fact: If your friend or loved one has made the attempt before, please keep an eye out, especially when they are under stressful conditions.  People who make attempts and fail are most likely  to come up with a different plan of action, with the sole aim of actually going through with it.  Perhaps the last time you were lucky enough to grab him before he ran under a bus.  Well next time, perhaps your friend would have researched on the number of pills he needs to swallow and would have made sure to lock his door.
Please do not treat any threat of suicide lightly.  If you suspect someone of having suicidal thoughts, talk to them. Find out if they have a definite plan. Someone who has gone so far as to set out a plan (or several plans) has had a lot of time to prepare and could take action at any minute. Try to get them to talk about their problems and see if you can get them to go see a counselor. Look for signs of self harm. Usual suspects are long sleeves (even in hot weather) to hide ligatures on the arms and a reluctance to dress in shorts/skirts. When your friend, daughter, colleague suddenly changes their style of dressing to cover up, it’s usually a sure sign of distress.
Sources and links:

Self Harm
Self harm on the BBC

~Daixy~

When Life is too hard to deal with: To Write Love On Her Arms

To Write Love On Her ArmsImage by ninniane via Flickr
So, I was going to write one big piece for this week as suicide prevention day is coming up, but it just made me sad, depressed and frankly, I entered a dark place. I decided instead to provide links to info I think the world should read and give the little extra that I feel should be stressed on. Addiction, Depression, Self Harm and Suicide are topics that truly matter to me, right up there with abuse. I consider addiction, self harm and suicide to be abuse, not only of oneself, but of the people around you.   They do far more harm than we expect, scarring the lives of millions of people each year.
 
To Write Love on Her ArmsImage via Wikipedia
I want to introduce you guys to TWLOHA (To Write Love on Her Arms).  It’s a movement dedicated to the above.  TWLOHA has been raising awareness about addiction, depression, self harm and suicide since 2006.  They link people to hotlines and rehab centres close by and they offer real life stories from real life victims.  TWLOHA is all about showing people that they are not alone, that they are loved, and that life is so worth living right.  Feel free to visit their site and read their blog. The only problem I have with TWLOHA is that it’s transitioned from a movement into a fad.  Everyone is writing love, but not everyone knows why.  I think we should all know the reasons why we do what we do.  I missed TWLOHA day this year (was in febuary), I think the decision was made to randomise it so it’s not treated like christmas, where people think about it only at that time of the year.
For those of you out there who are feeling lost and all alone, who think constantly of suicide, who hurt yourselves:  remember, don’t pick up that razor, don’t slice up that wrist.  Instead, write “Love” on your arms. 
I write love on my arms.  Hopefully, you will too…..
~Daixy~