Epileptic Jumps to His Death

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK A 37-year-old in-patient at the Katutura State Hospital who was hospitalized for epilepsy, died after plunging from the sixth floor of the building where he was being treated for his condition. Vendelinus Ndangor committed suicide on Monday after breaking a window on the sixth floor onto and the balcony from where he jumped to his death. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, condemned the incident even though he regarded it as not being peculiar to other suicide incidents that take place outside the hospital. He explained that suicide can take place anywhere where a person deems it convenient. “They usually do it wherever it is convenient for them, whenever an opportunity arises,” he said. While in other parts of the world the mortality rate is known to increase in severe psychiatric illnesses, just as it is in most other medical illnesses, suicides at hospitals in Namibia are a rare occurrence. Despite this case, Shangula says no extra security would be put in place. “We can not make hospitals prisons,” he added. One health official commented that few events in medical practice create such a sense of failure and guilt as the suicide of a hospital inpatient. The suicide rate in Namibia remains a huge concern. Most cases are reported in the northern parts of the country. In Omusati, more than 40 people have taken their own lives since January. Previous statistics show that in 2003 a total of 444 suicides were reported to the police throughout the country, while in 2004 some 154 cases were handled by the police over a five-month period. Psychologists have attributed such high numbers of suicides in the country to social economic difficulties. Suicidal people are usually lonely and, when they see others happy, they wonder what life is all about, and hence they resort to this act. Although many myths still surround suicide with most parts of the country and the world at large stigmatizing and condemning it for religious or cultural reasons, there is still a need for Namibians to show social support for those with suicidal tendencies.