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Suicide Cases soar in Zimbabwe Due To Economic Hardships

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It has become a familiar scene in Zimbabwe supermarkets: a shopper picks the commodity off the shelves, checks the price, shakes his head, returns the item to the shelf and mutters /Source: mg.co.za

It has become a familiar scene in Zimbabwe supermarkets: a shopper picks the commodity off the shelves, checks the price, shakes his head, returns the item to the shelf and mutters.

Is such widely experienced exasperation enough to drive many over the mental edge to suicide? Many here believe the country has laid down all the elements for what some view as unprecedented self-harm.

So, when a social media post by the Zimbabwe Republic Police last month said one suicide too many had been reported in the country within a few days, the social media streets went haywire attributing the suicides to insurmountable economic hardships.

This wasn’t the first time in recent years that police had raised concern about the alarming suicide rate, perhaps highlighting Zimbabwe’s long — if not losing — battle against economic hardships.

“You cannot rig the economy,” has become a favoured snide remark by government critics regarding the ruling party’s confidence about the country’s economic performance, despite ample evidence to the contrary.

With professionals such as teachers and students  being singled out among high suicide cases, it was reported in 2019 that suicide was the second-largest cause of death among people aged 15 to 29.

“Many individuals are anxious about the present and what the future has in store for them,” said McDonald Matika, a psychology lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

“When stress becomes chronic and people have poor coping mechanisms, some contemplate suicide as a way out.”

Families such as that of Norman Bhebhe* are still searching for answers, two years after the 20-year-old decided to end his life. Norman hanged himself in his father’s bedroom.

He did not leave a suicide note.

“We will never know what was going on in his mind. He never showed any signs of depression or anything,” a close relative said, expressing a common sentiment: no surviving family member or friends see suicide coming.

As suicides seemingly soar, mental health professionals lament a lack of awareness among Zimbabweans regarding the services available for the country’s millions reeling under increasingly tough economic conditions.

“The general population is not aware of the services offered by psychologists and other counsellors despite the current mental health policy making strides towards addressing this scourge,” Matika said.

Nemache Mawere, the acting chief executive of Ingutsheni Central Hospital, the country’s largest psychiatric health facility, said: “Suicide cases are high. What is not reported are parasuicides who attempt suicide and are saved or don’t die because of nonlethal methods.

Although Mawere said antidepressants are available at Ingutsheni Hospital, there are concerns that their use will remain low because few people are aware of their mental health condition.

“Few people are on treatment for depression and lack of mental awareness results in fewer clients on treatment, and few health workers understand mental health issues.”

In a country where access to health services has become a nightmare, public hospitals have not been spared the country’s economic crisis.

And, with the country’s government-employed specialist health workers leaving in droves, this has also left people seeking mental health assistance stranded.

“There is general inaccessibility to mental healthcare as most mental health services are not stationed at primary healthcare centres,” said Noreen Wini-Dari, a psychologist at the Zimbabwe Psychologists Association. “When you get to a clinic it’s not always that you get someone who can offer this service [mental healthcare], unlike physical health.”

The country’s health services have been in the spotlight in recent weeks with nurses threatening to go on strike over poor working conditions and patients expected to buy anything from medication to cotton wool and syringes.

Government hospital pharmacies have, for years, been running on empty, which means that much-needed medication such as antidepressants are not available.

“Cheap and affordable antidepressants are available at $3 for first-line medication,” Mawere said, at a time when older people suffering from depression and high blood pressure get monthly stipends of about $3.50.

Amid such poor incomes and competing priorities, antidepressants are not likely to be high on the list, critics contend.

Mawere has identified substance abuse as one of the drivers of suicides, and in a country where alcohol has become the go-to source of escape from the stark realities of poverty in city townships, it could mean more work remains to be done to save lives.

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Elon Musk Hopes to Test a Brain Implant in Humans Next Year

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In this still image from the Neuralink presentation video on YouTube, a presenter, lower left, described how a monkey used a wireless transmitter to “type” characters on a keyboard.Credit...Neuralink

Neuralink, the startup Elon Musk founded to link our brains directly to computers, showed progress Wednesday in two medical areas: helping blind people to see and helping people with spinal cord injuries to walk or use their hands.

The company, one of five that Musk leads, is working on technology to drop thousands of electrodes thinner than a hair into the outer surface of human brains. Each electrode is a tiny wire connected to a battery-powered, remotely recharged, quarter-sized chip package that’s embedded into a spot that once held a circle of skull. The chip, called the N1, communicates wirelessly with the outside world.

The technology is still far from the initial medical uses, much less Musk’s ultimate vision of using Neuralink to hang out with superintelligent AIs. But the company is making significant progress, including applying with the Food and Drug Administration to begin human trials it hopes to start within six months, the company said at a “show and tell” event lasting more than two hours.

“Our goal will be to turn the lights on for someone who’s spent decades living in the dark,” said Neuralink researcher Dan Adams, who’s working on the effort to repackage camera data into a brain-compatible format and pipe it directly to the visual cortex.

Musk has some cred when it comes to revolutionary tech. His electric-vehicle company Tesla is profoundly changing cars and his SpaceX outfit is transforming space access with reusable rockets. His reputation as a tech genius has taken a beating, though, with the chaos at Twitter after his $44 billion acquisition. Musk’s Boring Company, which aims to revamp auto transportation with tunnels, also hasn’t lived up to its promises yet.

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US President Joe Biden turns 80 Today: New Generation’ of Democratic Leaders Takes Control in Congress

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President Joe Biden will celebrate his 80th birthday on Sunday, marking the first time a sitting president has reached that milestone while in office and fueling speculation about how his advancing age will affect his political future.

Biden — who was the oldest person to assume the presidency in January 2021, just 61 days after his 78th birthday — has said he intends to make another White House bid, even as his age-adjacent peers, including 82-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have made the decision to step away from leadership in order to make way for a younger generation.

“My intention is that I will run again. But I’m a great respecter of fate and this is ultimately a family decision. I think everybody wants me to run but we’re going to have discussions about it. And I don’t feel any hurry one way or the other to make that judgment.” he said last week, after helming what many say is the most successful midterm election for a sitting president’s party in decades, though noting that those results would not have an impact on his decision to run again.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden greets guests before speaking at an event at the White House complex, Nov. 18, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Biden is the oldest person to serve as commander in chief in the nation’s history. Should he seek reelection in 2024 and win, the president would be 86 by the end of his second term. He has said he’ll talk over his future with his wife and the rest of his family over the holidays.

Biden has said he is hoping that he and his wife “get a little time to actually sneak away for a week around between Christmas and Thanksgiving” and that his decision to run for reelection will likely “be early next year we make that judgment.”

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Shanquella Robinson’s Death in Cabo, Father Believes Attack Was a Set Up

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Shanquella Robinson‘s mysterious death in Mexico smells like a set up to her father … he tells TMZ he believes his daughter was attacked as part of a diabolical plan.

Shanquella, who was from North Carolina, was found dead last month in her room in Los Cabos … where she was vacationing with a group of friends. Her parents say the friends told them the 25-year-old died of alcohol poisoning.

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