Namibia
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Woman survives depression and three suicide attempts

In a world where the shadows of despair often consume individuals, some rise above the darkness and find the strength within to overcome even the most debilitating mental health challenges.

One such person is Catherine Nanghama (47).

Nanghama says her depression started years ago, when she was only 21 years old.
For so long she has desired to end her life, she says.

She says she has tried to take her life three times in the past.

“I would describe depression as a mind thing, because it was really just in my head. I was such an overthinker, and that led to the worst days of my life.

“I’ve thought of taking my own life so many times that I’ve lost count, ” she says.

Nanghama, who has been married for over seven years, says this seemed impossible at first.

“The evenings were the worst time of the day, because that is when I encountered all sorts of negative thoughts,” she says.

“My family was always supportive of what I was going through. They assisted me with counselling, although it did not help me at the time.”

Nanghama says she would never wish her experience upon anyone.

Also confirming Nanghama’s suicidal episodes was a 60-year-old pastor at the Assemblies of God, Jonathan Haufiku, who helped her overcome depression.

“She was referred to our church by her family members and she reached out to me in January this year and told me her story and we started the counselling,” Haufiku said.

SEEKING HELP, EMBRACING HOPE

According to Windhoek-based psychologist Shaun Whittaker, depression is a common illness everybody suffers from at some point in their lives.

“People should realise depression is not caused by their genetic make-up, or some chemical imbalance. Having been a clinical psychologist for 30 years, I believe depression involves combined emotions, mostly sadness and anger,” he says.

Whittaker says depression can be caused by many factors, including the end of a relationship, unemployment, and death.

“The main symptom of depression is sleep disturbance. The human body needs at least eight hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle, because sleeping is a biological need of the body,” he says.

Whittaker advises that medication should not be the primary intervention, since depression is not always caused by a chemical imbalance.

“People suffering from depression need to express their emotions and not try to keep it inside, because that helps in finding a solution and outlines what the issue might be,” he says.
REACHING OUT

Despite the suffocating weight of depression, Nanghama says she summoned the strength to reach out for help.

She says realising she couldn’t fight the battle alone, she embarked on a journey of therapy and sought support from loved ones.

“I knew I could not live like this, and that something needed to be done for me to live a normal life. I found peace in not only therapy, but also in Bible scriptures” she says.

Nanghama’s husband, Likius, says his wife’s situation was worrying.

He says he remembers the day she overdosed on medication they had in the house.
“She had a tendency to overdose, but today we are glad she has recovered, and she is now also able to counsel others, suffering from this,” Likius says.
INCREASING SUICIDE RATE

According to weekend crime reports for June, provided by national police spokesperson deputy commissioner Kauna Shikwambi, 13 people in Namibia have taken their lives since 1 June – three women and 10 men.

She has confirmed that last week alone, four people took their own lives.

“It is alleged that a 41-year-old woman, identified as Magano Andreas, died by suicide at Nkurenkuru on Friday. The following day at Outapi, a 28-year-old man allegedly took his life,” she says.

It is further reported that one man and one woman took their lives on Saturday.

Shikwambi says the identity of one body discovered at Katutura remains unknown. Another body discovered at Ondangwa has been identified as Helena Ndilipukuku.