Gambia: WHO Engage the Media On Mental Health Risks, Suicide

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday the 31st of October 2019 engaged the media on the risks involved on mental health and facts about suicide.

This media engagement that took place at the WHO main office in Kotou was designed to enlightening the public on these issues.

Mr. Momodou Gassama the Programme Officer WHO described mental health as a state of wellbeing in which the individual realised his or her abilities, can cope the normal stress of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make contribution to his or her society.

He said mental health is more than the absence of symptoms of mental illness and refers to the foundation of the individual, to quality of life and capacities."Several risk factors act cumulatively to increase a person's vulnerability to suicidal behaviours," he said.

These include inappropriate media reporting that sensationalizes suicide and increases the risk of copycat suicides.

Mr. Gassama said 20% of global suicides are due to pesticide self-poisoning, most of which occur in rural agricultural areas in low and middle-income countries.

"Knowledge of the most commonly used suicide methods is important to devise prevention strategies which have shown to be effective, such as restriction of access to means of suicide," he noted.

He said that there are many ways in which the media can contribute to mental health; among them, are public awareness, writing non-sensational reports.

Dr. Desta Tiruneh the WHO Country representative said the people that they are aiming to reach are the ones living in the rural areas.

He said the rural people mostly find it difficult to access accurate information at the right time.

"The public always have interest on health and how to prevent themselves from certain diseases," he said.

Dr. Tiruneh said many people suffer from mental illness and they live among us without people realising that they are mentally ill.

"We only think that those wearing dirty clothes or picking papers in the streets are the only ones mentally ill, without knowing that some live within us with the illness," he said.

He said sometimes some people develop this sickness because they have lost hope and are discouraged with life.

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