Police have registered 256 suicide cases in the first half of this year, an increase from the 135 registered during the same period in 2022.
The police records show that of the 256 people, 226 are male and 30 are female.
Last year, 122 males committed suicide compared to 13 females.
In an interview on Tuesday, National Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya said the people committing suicide are mostly of the productive age and the reasons topping the list are relationships and marital problems.
“Most of the people who have committed suicide fall in the productive age group of 20 to 60. However, we are now seeing a new trend where we have had cases of children as young as 10, 11 or 12 committing suicide” he said.
In a separate interview, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences clinical psychologist Chiwoza Bandawe described the situation as serious, saying it needs to be recognised as a crisis that requires urgent attention.
“We need more qualified personnel. For example, currently we only have five psychiatrists in the whole country against a 20 million population. We need to invest more and spend more money than the one percent of the national health budget that goes towards mental health.”
Bandawe further called for the need to remove the law that criminalises attempted suicide, saying instead of punishing them there is need to offer such people help.
“When a person attempts suicide it is an indicator that they are very distressed with life and they find their life unbearable. Instead of helping them, we are punishing them. So it will be useful to review the law, as these statistics are a wake-up call,” he said.
The psychologist further advised people to understand that there are ways to overcome the challenges that they are facing by expressing emotions and understanding the alternative ways of looking at their situations.
“The vast majority of suicides are due to relationship issues and we really need to have that conversation where people are led to understand that a relationship is not your whole life and it does not define you as a person. Yes, there are challenges, but we have ways of overcoming them.”
Similarly, the police have urged people going through depression and facing mental health challenges to visit Victim Support Units found in all police stations for counselling and psycho-social support.