In the depths of despair

Mention paradise and you imagine an idyllic setting. A beautiful environment where everyone is happy and enjoying a blissful life. Well, you would be wrong. In Mauritius we have sunshine, turquoise sea, lovely beaches, nature reserves, a countryside that is so pleasing to the eyes and yet some people are depressed.

This is not about your Monday morning getting up for work blues but a serious despondency that leads to the desperate act of suicide.

For the first two months of 2012 statistics show that there have been 17 suicides and 71 suicide attempts. This shows that there is great suffering with people who find no other solution. What is alarming is that this also concerns young people. You would think that a young person enjoys life, is full of energy, hopefully building up a future. However, this is omitting the stress factors such as periods where there are social changes involving the family unit or relational and affective ones. This not only affects the age range 16-25 but even younger. A recent suicide was of a boy aged 11. It is difficult to find logic in such a desperate act when a young person has a lifetime ahead of them.

There are many psychological conditions that are risk factors such as, personality disorders, alcoholism and drug addiction. These are conditions already known to the medical profession. However, there can be other serious incidents that can lead to depression. Some examples are conflicts in the family, lack of parental affection, stress in education. Young people may have many virtual friends on internet but no human contact. Isolation can induce a feeling of unwantedness and lead to suicide. Professionals say that suicidal tendencies is the result of a process with visible signs. The signs can be direct verbal, announcing the intention, or even an indirect allusion. The list of clues are many and fall into two main categories, behavioural and emotional.

In Mauritius there is no strategic national prevention plan and the subject should be added to the list of social scourges. A campaign of public awareness on prevention is required. However, there are prevention NGOs such as Befrienders and Life Plus. In the education sector there is a program called “The Friends of Zippy” aimed at first and second year primary school children which teaches them how to tackle everyday difficulties.

Nevertheless, anyone thinking about suicide or attempts it, is experiencing a great suffering. The person needs personal attention and an attentive carer. We need to be more in tune with the suffering of those around us. Be observant, listen carefully, hold a hand, save a life.

Figures of reported suicides (source: Digest of Crime, Justice and Security Statistics 2010, dated September 2011 + Police Press Office).
2009 : 83 suicides and 385 attempted suicides
2010 : 80 suicides and 391 attempted suicides
2011 : 90 suicides (8 are youth under 18 years of age) and 467 attempted suicides
Update 2012 between January and August : 65 attempted suicides by youth under 18 years of age.

Help line contacts in Mauritius

Life Plus : 24 hour service free & confidential
Tel. 188 (landline), Tel. 4661290 + 4665310

Befrienders :
Tel. 467 0160 (from mobile or fixed phone),
Tel. 800 9393 (from fixed phone only) [free]
Monday to Saturday : 6pm  to 9pm
Sunday : 9am to Noon and 6pm to 9pm.

3 thoughts on “In the depths of despair”

  1. These tragic events are unfortunately far too common in societies worldwide!… Mauritus, in the uk where I live and everywhere else!…..The coping strategies of a lot of young people in their formative years can be deficient, specially if they do not have supportive and understanding parents and relatives. Children have the fundamental need to feel loved and wanted by their parents and siblings and this is an essential requirement for their development. Society stipulates that one has to make one’s way in life and expectations are very high in most young people and this is sometimes reinforced by pushy parents who expect their children to always achieve great success. The young want to emulate the success of their elders and of their more fortunate peers. Unfortunately real life is different to fantasies which often exist in the minds of younger people and when things do not work out as planned,despondency and feelings of failure are acute and feelings of hopelessness quickly replaces the exuberance of youth. The coping strategies of a lot of youngsters are not fully developed as these can only be improved with life events and depression is always deeper and more serious in younger individuals, hence the higher incidence of suicide!…. the way forward is for parents and guardians to look out for signs of depression and withdrawal and to take prompt action by offering more support and understanding. Ignoring these signs and symptoms in some cases can unfortunately lead to utter despair leading to incidence of suicide!.

  2. Very sad that in what many thinks as paradise, there are those who feel despair. That is not just confined to Mauritius, Mike. Here in Holland, there is also a high incidence of that. Just today, there were no trains headed up north of my city because a person committed suicide by throwing himself off the track.

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