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Twenty-Five Percent of South Sudanese Girls are Suicidal

by Shelby Hawkins on June 8, 2018

A report from allafrica’s website states that one in four girls in South Sudan have contemplated taking their own life.

Based on a survey of 250 Sudanese girls, ages ranging 10 to 19 years old, the current state of their country has left 25 percent of the young women there suicidal; seventy-five percent of them believe that the war has negatively affected their state of mind.

What Caused This Mental State?

Trauma from the nation’s civil conflicts is difficult on anyone, but women specifically face a unique position during times of civil rest. For instance, nearly 90 percent of citizens that fled their homes during the civil war were women.

In a newfound state of independence and uncertainty, how does one move forward without looking back?

These young women have often times been victims of sexual violence that tends to erupt during times of lack of law and order. They also have to fear kidnappings, beatings, rape and/or murder.

Unsurprisingly, as a result of political unrest, crime rates spike up and often go unnoticed and unreported because of the amount of chaos that is happening.

Aid workers agree as well that gender-based violence begets a perpetual state of mental trauma such a paranoia, fear, depression and despair.

African Culture and Mental Health

Mental health is an extremely stigmatized issue in Africa; it is generally not talked about and when it is talked about, derogatory language is often involved.

Reasons behind this is associated with the lack of education on the subject, as well as the absence of mental healthcare facilities. For example, in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, the national spending on mental health is just 4 percent of government expenditures.

The World Health Organization reports that less than 2 percent is the average developing nations spends on mental health

Ostracization surrounding mental health needs to go away because it is so prominent on the continent. According to the scholarly article, Addressing Mental Illness In Africa: Global Health Challenges And Local Opportunities by Nicole M. Monteiro, mental illness is a silent epidemic in Africa.

When some regions of the continent are plagued by corruption, extreme poverty and war, it makes sense that citizens would be psychologically affected by that. Studies show that individuals who live in places that experience civil unrest are more likely to show symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Meanwhile, when help is called upon for psychological disorders, mental healthcare professionals are actually not prominent in leading the cause.

Although the vast majority of the continent does utilize modern medical practices, spiritual healing is still very much a core method of rehabilitation. Because of this, mental health is moreso looked at as a spiritual deficiency rather than socialization or genetics.

Sudanese Modern History

The northeast countries, North and South Sudan are only 5 years old.

Sudan and South Sudan split in 2011 as the result of a 2005 peace deal that aided in ending Africa’s longest running civil war.

South Sudanese citizens overwhelmingly voted to secede and become the continent’s first new nation to gain independence since Eritrea split from Ethiopia in 1993.

However, the outcome of secession did not lead to national peace. Inner conflict eventually appeared in 2013 when the president and his deputy struggled for power and influence.

The president chose to fire his deputy, thus creating an entirely new battle.

Thousands of citizens were killed in battles between government appointed militia and rebel factions. As the men killed each other over peace, women and children left their homes and migrated to safer regions; an estimated 2.2 million people fled South Sudan since the battles began.

After all of this transpired, an internationally-mediated peace agreement was finally signed August of 2015.

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Shelby Hawkins
My name is Shelby, like the mustang, and I am an avid lover of photography, literature and desserts. I identify as a proud feminist and Pan-Africanist; hopefully that manifests in my writing.