Profile of suicide in Dar es Salaam

  • NK Ndosi Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, P.O Box 65051, Dar es Saalam, Tanzania
  • MP Mbonde Senior Lecturer, Department of Morbid Anatomy and Pathology, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, P.O Box 65051, Dar es Saalam, Tanzania
  • E Lyamuya Associate Professor, Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, P.O Box 65051, Dar es Saalam, Tanzania

Abstract

Objective: To investigate individual socio-demographic characteristics of suicides, the reasons, methods and means employed to commit suicide.

Design: A descriptive prospective study of suicides. A structured questionnaire was employed to enquire the details of the itemised objectives.

Setting: Muhimbili National Hospital - in urban Dar es Salaam.

Subjects: Fifty three males and 47 females consecutive suicides aged 15 to 59 years Results: The mean age for suicides was found to be 28.2 years. Males were more than females and were ten years older. Sixty two percent of the subjects were single, 30% married. Seventy two percent had primary school education, 19% secondary education. Main reasons for committing suicide were established in 61 cases of which 57.3% (35/61) were due to severe marital and family conflicts, overwhelming disappointments in love affairs and unwanted pregnancies. Eleven subjects with chronic somatic illnesses killed themselves due to unbearable physical pain and overwhelming economic deprivations motivated ten subjects to take their lives. Sixty nine subjects poisoned themselves predominantly using anti-malarials and pesticides while 27 hanged themselves. A third of the suicides consumed alcohol frequently and a quarter of the suicides were HIV positive, a rate twice the national prevalence for sexually active adults.

Conclusion: Comparatively, women became vulnerable to suicide at a younger age. Dysfunctional social networks played a predominant role among suicides. Family and marital conflicts need closer social attention and timely counseling. Patients with chronic medical conditions and frequent alcohol use need effective exploration concerning suicidal ideation to avert self-annihilation. A policy to control prescriptions of toxic drugs including pesticides is overdue.

East African Medical Journal Vol. 81 No. 4 April 2004: 207-211
Published
2004-08-20
Section
Articles

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eISSN: 0012-835X