Namibia, known for its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture, faces a lesser-known challenge lurking in the shadows. Recent revelations have shown that Namibia ranks fourth in the rate of suicide on the African continent. It’s a deeply concerning issue that demands our attention.


Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Esther Muinjangue, shed light on this alarming statistic during a regional forum. Diverse participants from countries such as New Zealand, India, Ghana, Nigeria, and others came together to discuss the pressing issue of suicide.


Government figures provided by authorities to VOA paint a somber picture. In 2020, Namibia recorded 512 cases of suicide, followed by 496 in 2021 and 510 in 2022. That’s an average of nearly 10 deaths per 100,000 people. These numbers are not mere statistics—they represent lives lost, dreams shattered, and families left in anguish.


Clinical psychologist Shaun Whittaker, speaking to VOA, delved into the complex factors behind Namibia’s high suicide rate. He highlighted that young adult men with a history of substance abuse are most vulnerable. Additionally, he attributed the rise to the grim realities of unemployment and poverty that afflict the nation.


Whittaker stated, “Suicide in Namibia is mainly caused by unemployment amongst young adult men. If one looks at the statistics, certainly over the past decade or so, it is usually men in the age group of 20 to 29 who commit suicide by hanging themselves.”


To truly comprehend the human toll of this crisis, VOA spoke to Florence Beukes, a courageous survivor who has triumphed over her own dark moments. Beukes shared her harrowing experiences of attempting to take her own life during her teenage years and young adulthood. However, through counseling and therapy, she has emerged stronger, free from the grip of suicidal thoughts.


Beukes revealed the profound struggles she faced, saying, “You see, the thing is because I am also a sexual abuse victim, survivor. I am a survivor of GBV [gender-based violence], sexual abuse, and rape, and that is actually what caused me, you know I fell into deep depression.”


It is through the stories of survivors like Florence Beukes that we gain a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of mental health, trauma, and societal factors. Their resilience serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us that with the right support, lives can be saved and futures rewritten.


Namibia’s battle with suicide demands immediate attention, both from government institutions and civil society. Comprehensive mental health programs, accessible counseling services, and strategies to address unemployment and poverty must be prioritized. It’s time to break the silence surrounding this silent crisis and come together to protect the precious lives of Namibians.