By William J. Mbangula Oshakati The authorities in Oshana are conducting about 226 inquests since the beginning of the year following the deaths of people under various unexplained circumstances. On the eve of World Mental Day celebrations here, medical experts believe that some of the unnatural deaths are caused by mental illness. A medical expert in the mental health department in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Dr Ndahambelela Mthoko, told New Era that research conducted elsewhere in the world had found that the high rate of unnatural deaths through suicides involved people suffering from mental disturbances. Following the high rate of suicides in Oshana region last year, which stands at 95 cases, Mthoko noted that it was decided to hold the event in the region under the theme: ‘Building Awareness-Reducing Risk: Mental Illness and Suicides.’ The event took place at the Ongwediva Trade Fair Centre on Monday, October 16, and was attended by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, the Director of Health in Oshana, Dr Naftali Hamata, and the nursing staff from the Oshakati Hospital. Other regions with similar worrisome incidents of suicides were 65 in Ohangwena, 57 in Omusati and 30 in Oshikoto. Police spokesperson in Oshana, Constable Jonas Matheus, confirmed the incidents of the unnatural deaths still being investigated by the police. According to him, many deaths related to suicide are categorized through different methods used, depending on the age group. The most common method used by males between 25 and 70 years is hanging. Females who do so are between 15 and 56 years. There are rare incidents of women shooting themselves to death, but this is most common in men between the ages of 24 and 94. Suicide by intoxication has been observed by the police to be among men between 18 and 33 years, but it is very rare among women. The police are conducting inquests related to drowning in which females between 9 and 43 were observed in the region. Those found dead were in the age group of 3-66; those burnt were males between 1 and 15 and females between 7 and 85 years; those who collapsed and died were males between 20 and 23, and females between 3 and 33. Also being investigated are cases of people who died whilst being operated on – mostly females between 18 and 35 years.