Skip to content

Tag: suicide

Of Black People and Depression

Posted in health

This week’s Being Mary Jane raised a very important topic. It’s one they have brought up before in Season 1, when Mary Jane’s friend, played by Ludacris, commits suicide after he’s outed for forging sections of his award winning book.

Fine Black Brother knocking himself off?
Fine Black Brother knocking himself off?

Forward to Season 2 when a major character chooses to end it rather than deal with shame, confusion, and regret.

I won’t spoil the episode for you, and won’t waste the time blasting the writers of the show for choosing such an easy way to grab attention for the show instead of working on redeeming said character but I will say that during the Ep, Mary Jane and her friends discuss how their whole lives they’ve been told that black people do not get depressed, that we as a race are strong, fighters and stand through whatever woes befall us. According to them, People of African descent do not ever commit suicide.

Scracth record
Image source: Google

Umm…say what?!

While they are right in that that is the accusation leveled at us, I posit that it is false. The black man is no different from the Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian… We all stem from the same mother/father of life and share characteristics.

It surprises me that the writers of the show, and thusΒ  the characters, for all their reading do not know of pre-colonial African tribeswomen who locked themselves in barns and set themselves on fire when they learned their men had lost the battle and enemy raiders were on their way to rape and pillage? Did they not read about these women who chose suicide rather than permit their bodies to be ravaged? I’m attempting to locate my notes from Uni, where I discovered this info but I do recall that Dr Esi Sutherland Addy mentioned this in a class I took at the African Studies Department also.

And for goodness sakes have they not read Things Fall Apart, and how Okwonkwo hanged himself rather than face his shame?

Yes I know my examples are few but for an Africa whose History is barely written/known, we cannot presume that these things did not happen in the past, or that it’s impossible in our present for us to be riddled with pain, so much so that we cannot bear to live on this earth.

Read on the deaths of Don Cornelius of Soul Train Fame, as well as of Leanita McClain.

And damn, y’all, Sam Sarpong jumped to his death following 7 hours of chit chat with local law enforcement and family.

We can’t continue to hide under a rock and say black people are strong and don’t get depressed, or don’t ever commit suicide. We as a people deal with so much and I really feel our religion helps a lot in keeping us in check. We force ourselves out of depression most times, especially when we have support around us but honestly (and from personal experience) it’s not always easy to hide from it all. Anxiety and depression, be they as a result from PTSD, or the lows of bipolar disorder, or general anxiety disorder, etc are very real. They are not just episodes of people being sad. They are not emotions to simply be shelved away and ignored. They are very real, very disturbing thought patterns that cannot seem to go away.

A discussion I had with someone a few weeks ago had him, a medic, telling me that some people just want attention and just want to be miserable. But think about it, if all a person has ever known is misery, if all they have known is negativity and self loathing, how do you think they will be able to appreciate happiness? They are comfortable in it, it is what they know. Attention seeking behaviour is also a mental issue by the way.

Here’s a video I found on Buzzfeed which should give you a hint of what people deal with.

Rather than belittling Mental Illness and making people who suffer, yes I said suffer, from depression, why don’t we acknowledge that it exists and work towards helping each other stand when the weight of the world is simply too much for a single shoulder to bear? The world is already doing everything to destroy black lives, and we are already doing well by killing each other off…should we really be allowing suicide to cull our numbers further?

 

Everyone’s pain is relative. Don’t think your situation is worse than someone else’s. If someone is sharing their issues, don’t belittle them as attention seeking behavior and walk away. Different people have different thresholds of pain and you never know how close someone may be to harming themself because they can’t see the way out. Help them see a way out. Share their pain and give them a bit of your joy. This advice is for both people suffering from depression and those who have to listen to them. How many times have I heard a depressed person tell me I am lucky because I don’t have any problems? I tell them things are not always as they seem and just because I put a bright face forward does not mean I do not have my own issues with anxiety.

For people suffering from depression, I beg you to find help. I know paranoia is waaaaay high during episodes and you question everyone’s motives but put that aside. Get the help you need, unless it’s from the devil. If someone is willing to help, let them. Just do whatever it takes to stay alive because trust me, the world is not going to be magically better without you in it and the pain and loss your friends and family will suffer if you should succumb to depression and suicide will be unimaginable. Don’t make them suffer as you are. This is not a situation in which misery should love company.

Be strong, for yourself first and surround yourself with strong people who will hold you up when you are weak.

And remember, God loves you and has a purpose for you. Your purpose is not to live a miserable life and die without impacting a single soul. Your purpose, no matter how trivial your life may seem, is to live, pray, love. You will be amazed to discover what you think of in yourself as useless is exactly what someone else needs to keep carrying on.

Peace prevail in your hearts and homes.

~Daixy~

 

PS this debate on #blacklivesmatter still has me pissed. All lives matter. Black people are not the only race in history to be enslaved, abused and murdered in droves. How about we change the story from Black man assaulted to man assaulted? How about we treat people as humans, instead of constantly trying to isolate race and religion? By focusing on their being human (and I’m not saying ignore their race completely), but by focusing on their humanity and insisting on their rights as humans, I believe we will go way further in eliminating abuse. While we are yobbing about black lives matter, Hispanics are also rotting in jail. Asians are also facing discrimination and our Arab brothers and sisters are paying the penalty for a select few terrorists who choose to tag religion onto their exploits.

#AllLivesMatter

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: World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and it’s got me thinking a lot about things I can do to make the situation better in Ghana.  Depression, Suicide and abuse are not treated properly in this country but at least we have CHRAJ and WAJU.  Depression and suicide and mental health issues are ignored in Ghana and I believe that’s a huge boo boo.  I don’t know why it is that we are so afraid of death.  It’s a subject most do not want to discuss and even more so when someone takes his/her own life.  But I think burying our heads in the sand won’t make the problem go away.

Adults and children alike have been committing suicide in Ghana for several years.  Our poor record keeping though, means we don’t have actual figures.  Most info on suicide in Ghana comes from the sensationalist tabloids who aren’t given much credit for their newsworthiness.  We get stories like this one from time to time which shock us to the core momentarily and then we go about our daily business and forget all about the tragedy.

According to this article, over 1500 people, most of them between the ages of 20 and 35, were reported to have committed suicide in 2008.  I checked the Annual report of the Ghana Health Service and this wasn’t mentioned. I truly wonder if these reported cases come from the Ghana Police Service or the Health service.  Where are these figures from?!!!  The 2009 Annual report doesn’t mention Mental Health at all.  In 2007 however, according to their annual report,only 3.6% of the budget allocated to the Ghana Health Service went to the Mental health Services.   3.6%?  Healthy Mind Healthy Body!!!!  I know we have major diseases to deal with like TB and Malaria and Lymphatic Filariasis but seriously…..3.6% explains why we have so few mental health centres and why they are understaffed.  Shame on you GHS.  You should know better.

I have heard that KNUST has started a counseling centre to deal with these issues amongst its students. It’s a wonderful idea, what with the number of jumpers Tech has had over the years.  In searching for that, I discovered Lifeline Ghana.  I wonder if they’re fully operational and will be looking deeper into it.   They were kind enough to list their phone numbers so I will be giving them a call.


I’d love to see Legon do the same thing Tech is rumoured to be doing, and eventually spread it out all over the country. Anyone interested in seeing that happen should holla @ me.  I’m ready to get stuck in but will need all the help I can get.  More people on board will give us a bigger voice.

So um, Happy Suicide Prevention Day! πŸ˜€  Remember to hug your loved ones and tell them you care. And that loner of a coworker, maybe you should invite em out for a cup of coffee. I want to see us do this all day of the year.  This ain’t christmas to think about only on the D day πŸ™‚

Anywho, don’t forget to check out :

WHO
IASP
WHO WSPD statement 2009

~Daixy~

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 πŸ˜› 
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~