Of depression and the rise of suicides among university students
“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” 1st Peter 5 verse 7
According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), suicide is fast becoming one of the leading causes of death in university students due to depression. The university period is accompanied by additional responsibilities and pressure to succeed, which may increase mental distress, depression or lead to drug abuse. In addition, university students have been found to experience low life satisfaction and to be more depressed than a non-student population of a similar age. As a result, some students may succumb to suicidal ideation and a greater risk of dying by suicide.
What is depression?
Depression (major students feel as if life is not worth living.
In Zimbabwe, headlines every year circulate of students ending their lives due to depression caused by academic pressure, relationship depressive disorder) is a common and a serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression cause feeling of sadness and loss of interest once enjoyed. It can also lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function well at school and at home. Depression can make fallouts and financial crunches. University students suicide cases are going up each and every year especially last year there were many reported cases of students committing suicide. Midlands State University having the highest number, in 2014 three students and one staff member ended their lives in the same semester. It is very challenging for students suffering from depression to balance academic pressures and financial stresses as well as maintaining a flashy lifestyle. Students especially those in higher tertiary scrounge for food, rent and assignments printing especially those doing dissertations, and they only got their funds from guardians and organizations who also find it difficult to meet their expectations. Given the ever-rising costs of college, it is not surprising that many students are stressed about money. According to the 2015 National Student Financial Awareness, 70% of university students are stressed about finances.
Relationship fallouts/ loss of relationship due to either, break up or if a partner passes away can make someone commit suicide. For instance last year there were two cases of students who killed themselves due to heartbreaks, a student from National University of Science and Technology threw herself in front of a train because she had fallen pregnant for another man yet she had a boyfriend whom her parents knew. Also, another student from Midlands State University hung himself on a shower, rumours of his demise were that he had caught her lecture bedding his girlfriend.
The rise of suicide among students is a major issue that needs to be looked into with a lot of concern and creating effective preventable measures. Knowledge concerning suicide is largely limited, mental health groups together with students’ organizations should get into universities raising awareness and teaching the student community the importance of controlling stress. The majority of people in our African societies treat cases of suicides as demonic acts.
More so, the church has an obligation to see that all people have access to needed pastoral, medical care and therapy in those circumstances that lead to loss of self-worth and suicidal despair. It is the role of the church to provide education to address the biblical, theological, social and ethical issues related to depression. Churches and students organizations should always be places of safety and community for those wrestling with any issue, especially those with mental distress.
Youth unemployment a serious concern
Youth unemployment is a global phenomenon. Across the globe, youth are 43.7% of the total unemployed according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) 2010. In sub-Saharan Africa about 60% of the unemployed are youth. Youth in many countries now live with their parents upto to their late twenties and thirties and also depend on their parents on everything. The situation is the same as in Zimbabwe, the overall unemployment rate is over 95% with youth unemployment being pegged at 70 % according to (ILO 2006)
In Zimbabwe high education does not guarantee a decent job,, many companies have closed, making it difficult for university graduates to get jobs and for the few companies that are still operating only those who have connections with people on the top ladder are the only one getting employment. Nepotism has somehow made it difficult for many qualified and skilled youth to get jobs as only those in power are favouring their relatives and friends.Widespread youth unemployment also leads to a socially excluded generation with a greater risk of poverty. The unstable economic environment has lead to the escalation of the informal sector and black market which has absorbed most young people as illegal miners and money exchange dealers. High levels of unemployment in the country has pushed the youth to no longer concentrate on a particular job that they are qualified for, but rather try their best to do anything that will help support them and their families. Most unemployed youths have been subjected to begging, illicit deals and drug abuse.The harsh economic environment has resulted from bad leadership and poor governance destroying the future generation of Zimbabwe.
Youth unemployment has greater effects on the society as a whole. Youth unemployment has brought all sorts of vices including participation in politically motivated violence, like the country witnessed in January where young people were seen burning tyres and putting barriers on major roads. Young girls and women has been involved into prostitution and this has increased the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Youth unemployment need to be solved and done away with. The government acknowledges that youth unemployment is a serious problem, but the question remains, “What has the government done to solve this problem?” The government has become desensitized to the plight of its own youth. It is high time the Zimbabwean government acknowledge that indeed youth unemployment is a national crisis. Thousands of young people are graduating each and everyday so they can join their colleagues in the streets.
“Let us support the young people of our world, so that they grow into adults who raise yet more generations of productive and powerful leaders” Ban Kin-Moon (2012)
“There is overwhelming evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies and countries…” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
The Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Girls in ICT Day. International Girls in ICT Day is a day recognized around the globe and is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of April and will this year be observed on 25 April 2019. The International Girls in ICT day aims to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of ICTs, enabling both girls and technology companies to reap the benefits of greater female participation in the ICT sector. The ICT sector is currently male dominated especially at senior levels, where women are present; it is often low-level and low skilled jobs.
To date, over 300,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 9,000 celebrations of International Girls in ICT Day in 166 countries worldwide, according to the ITU website. As Student Christian Movement Of Zimbabwe, we encourage women and girls to participate in the ICT sector and we will continue to strive for the emancipation of women in attaining economic independence, because we believe that the ICT sector needs more girls and women.
In Zimbabwe women constitute more than 54% of the total population, and yet are the least exposed to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). ITCs has a powerful role in advancing women’s rights, empowerment and gender equality. Supporting the education of women and girls in the ICT sector is also in line with the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 5 aimed at achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. Not only are jobs in the ICT sector lifting women out of poverty, but a more gender balanced sector enables highly talented women to springboard to the top of the career ladder.
Cyclone Idal ravages Zimbabwe
Our country has been hit by the adverse force of nature, cyclone Idai which left trails of destruction in the Eastern Highlands particularly Chimanimani and Chipinge. It has proven to be one of the worst natural disaster in Zimbabwe.
The tropical storm moved in from Mozambique and hit Eastern Zimbabwe with heavy rains and strong winds particularly Chimanimani and Chipinge. This resulted in loss of lives, displacement and destruction of properties. Up to date the death toll has risen up to approximately 82 and many more people are still missing according to preliminary reports. Infrastructure was destroyed including schools, clinics, shops, roads and more than 100 houses have been damaged in the town of Chimanimani. Among the dead are two students from St Charles Lwanga Seminary Secondary in Chimanimani.
As Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ) we are deeply saddened by the tragic situation as a result of Cyclone Idai, which has affected hundreds of people in Eastern Highlands. Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected families. We are calling upon each and every individual to extend a helping hand to the affected communities at such a difficult moment.
Psalms 147; 3
“He heals the broken hearted and binds their wounds”
International Women's Day
“She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future” Proverbs 31 vs25
The Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Women’s Day (IWD) under the theme Balance for Better. International Women’s Day is observed on March 8 every year. Historically, the Women’s Day was born from the International Socialist Women’s Conference of 1910. It was agreed that a “Women’s Day” was to be held annually in celebrating social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. A call to action from the statues of Women Day was the accelerating gender equality. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in1917, March 8 became a Russian national holiday. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the Socialist Movement and Communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations and by 1980, 64 countries had signed and ratified the charter. To date, 185 countries have signed and ratified the CEDAW and UN Charter.
As Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ) we are currently and will continue working with women, focusing on empowerment and achieving gender balance as our calling. We believe that achieving gender balance is a responsibility for humanity where both men and women have got roles to play in achieving gender balance. As SCMZ, we will strive for the emancipation of women in attaining fair representation in decision making position, access to opportunities, resources and having control over their bodies in Public Spaces. We are calling for the equal participation and equal opportunities for both men and women. We are looking forward to that day when women will participate in developmental issues together with their male counterparts instead of operating in predefined menial roles.
We applaud the Zimbabwean government for having a constitution that inclusionary amplifies the voice of women. A Gender Policy and a Gender Commission was set as an avenue that stands for Women Empowerment. We also promise as SCMZ to fully participate in international programmes, major international instruments and protocols related to gender issues and emancipation of women.
Happy International Women’s Day
Follow women’s day on twitter #BalanceForBetter
From Apathy to Action
Luwiza Makosa and Emilie Larsen Ørneseidet with fellow Ballot Buddies at University of Zimbabwe.
In late 2016 then FK participants Emilie Larsen Ørneseidet, Jarand Hanto and 2017 FK participant Luwiza Makosa together with the Student Christian Movement team initiated the Ballot Buddies Network Campaign in Zimbabwe. The project came about as a way to address voter apathy amongst Zimbabwean youths for the upcoming 2018 general elections
It is with pleasure that we write to you, sharing our experiences working on the Ballot Buddies Network in Zimbabwe. Firstly let us introduce you to the Ballot Buddies Network. The Ballot Buddies was a strategic campaign aimed at mobilizing students and youths to register to vote in the Zimbabwe 2018 elections.
Initially limited to selected tertiary institutions, the Ballot Buddies Network , under the guidance of Youth Empowerment Transformation Trust (YETT), Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ) and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), grew into a national network targeting 2 million Zimbabweans between the age of 18 to 35 years to register to vote.The project came as a response to address the voter apathy existing among Zimbabwean youths.
- “It gives me great pleasure to see what this project has snowballed into and that so many organisations and youths have taken an interest in such an important cause”says Jarand Hanto.
The aim of the Ballot Buddies Network was to promote youth participation the electoral processes in Zimbabwe. More specifically to mobilize youths to register to vote for the 2018 general elections under the slogan “From Apathy to Action”. On a long-term basis, the project aimed to change attitudes and behaviours of the youth and encourage active youth participation in the national political discourse regardless of political affiliation. However the broader aim of the campaign was to promote the active participation of students and youths in electoral processes in Zimbabwe, building a critical mass of youths who are willing to peacefully participate in National processes.
The campaign message was discussed upon by stakeholders involved in the campaign that was the students, the campaign group leaders. It was interesting to note that various themes were suggested and some interesting ones were as follows (virgin finger- meaning first time voter), slay that thumb, X1G Reloaded, ballot buddy amongst other innovative campaign themes. Finally the group then decided to go with “APATHY TO ACTION”as the theme for the Ballot buddies network. Upto date the campaign still encourages young people to move from apathy to action.
In April 2017 a Ballot Buddies Boot Camp was held to educate Ballot “Buddies” on the campaign and electoral processes in general. The idea being for the attendees to establish provincial Ballot Buddies networks and coordinate voter registration locally. Emilie Ørneseidet explains:
-As exchange participants we were involved in the work with what was to become the Ballot Buddies network. Some of the work included contributing to development of the campaign material and campaign strategy. Here we worked in close cooperation with YETT and SCMZ,During the Boot Camp40 students coming from 5 different tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe gathered for a workshop to learn more about the Ballot Buddies and electoral processes in general. A crucial part of the Boot Camp was to capacitate the students in such a way so that they were prepared to educate and capacitate fellow students at their own institutions in the months that followed. At the Boot Camp the students were encouraged to further mobilize friends, colleagues, communities, churches and other off-campus connections to register to vote so that they too could access exclusive spaces and entertain, l was privileged to facilitate one of the sessions during the boot camp”
Apart from the Boot camps a number of activities were carried out and these included radio talk shows, Open day voter education serminas, students speak newsletters have were published sharing student experiences on voter registration in various districts among other activities.
Jean Betrand-Mhandu-2017-18 SCMZ Ballot Buddies Team Leader: “I was impressed by the exceptional participation of young people that we reached out to. Young people showed zeal to take up the campaign theme of moving from apathy to action. However, my worry is on the level of effort being put by CSOs and government to keep up the momentum to capacitate young people to their fullest potential to be the next leaders of our generation. I wish to see the efforts made by the Ballot Buddies to continue bearing fruits to the young people of Zimbabwe.
Our hope never dies...
Luwiza Makosaexpresses that, “We continue to CELEBRATE the exceptional youth participation in the Ballot Buddies, we also remain hopeful that the Zimbabwean situation will one day change and that we will see young people happy and being responsible for their communities.Until then the Ballot Buddies Network remain vigilant.
Ballot buddies leading team in Mashonaland Central Province,Bindura University
Page 1 of 8