Gender and suicide: A gendered analysis of suicidal behaviour among Lusaka residents

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Mutale, Peter
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The main objective of this study was to ascertain a gender perspective among para- suicides in the City of Lusaka. The study makes the observation that suicide has become one of the major social problems globally, where it is estimated that 8 to 14 people per 100,000 commit suicide each year. However, the magnitude of this problem in Zambia is not well known due to lack of statistics. Information obtained from University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and Zambia Police Service suggested that between 1998 and 2004, the number of attempted deaths from suicides among males and females nearly tripled.The specific objectives of the study were therefore, to establish the pattern of para-suicide, to determine the motives for attempting suicide, to present a descriptive account of gender risk factors associated with attempted suicide and to make recommendations on how attempted suicide can be addressed. The study sought to answer the following questions: what are the social and demographic characteristics of people who attempt to commit suicide? why do people attempt to commit suicide? what are gender risk factors associated with attempted suicide? and how can the problem of parasuicide be addressed? The study population comprised 46 para-suicides of whom 28 were women and 18 men and was undertaken at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) between October, 2006 and February, 2007. The study was therefore, hospital based. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect quantitative data. In-depth interviews were used for collecting qualitative data. The study also relied on books and documents to collect secondary data. Quantitative data was analysed using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). Qualitative data was analysed manually. The major findings drawn from this study were that young people, between 20 and 30 years of age attempted to commit suicide at a higher rate. This study established that the majority of the para-suicides were females, 60.9% and males were 39.1%.This study established that suicidal behaviour is not always associated with the presence of mental illness. This study ascertained that the main motive which led, female respondents to attempt to commit suicide was strained relationship which caused them emotional pain and psychological distress. This study revealed that gender and power relations played a critical role towards female respondents' quest to attempt to commit suicide. Female suicidal behaviour was linked to domestic violence, vulnerability, hopelessness, whereas men's suicidal behaviour was linked to rising rates of unemployment, financial insecurity and loss of identity.This study in conclusion identified drug overdose and poisoning as the commonest methods used by respondents to attempt to commit suicide. The study recommends that raising social and economical status for both women and men and eliminating gender disparities will gradually reduce incidences of suicide.
Gender-Zambia , Suicide-Zambia