ADDIS ABEBA – At least 8,000 people in Ethiopia commit suicide every year, a top official at the ministry of health said, as middle-aged men and women remain most at risk.
The ministry put the rate of suicide in the country at 80 people per a million although comprehensive studies are still needed to determine the extent of the issue.
Mental illness contributes to 95% of the case, Dr. Dereje Assefa, head of mental illness program team at the Ministry of Health, told Ethiopian press agency.
Stressful life events including divorce, relationship problems, not having a child in marriage and loss of loved ones are some of the major factors for committing suicide, said Dr. Dereje. He also added genetic factors can also attribute to some suicidal intentions.
A study published in March last year states suicide is becoming an emergency psychiatric problem that needs urgent intervention.
“Cultural taboo, stigma, and criticism associated with suicidal behaviors affect the communities’ attitude and practice toward suicide and its help-seeking behaviors,” it says.
The highest rate of suicide by age is among 45 and above old men and, in women, 55 years old and above, according to the ministry of health.
Every death is a tragedy and has a devastating impact on a family and society at large, said Dr. Dereje. “Yet suicides are preventable with proper strategy.”
Key interventions that have shown success in reducing suicides are restricting access to means such as pesticides. and implementing programs among young people to build life skills that enable them to cope with life stresses, World Health Organization or WHO’s report notes.