The government is working to ensure that mental health services are accessible everywhere, as well as raising awareness about the alarming symptoms of mental health issues that can lead to suicide. This was shared by Claire Nancy Misago, Director of Community Mental Health at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC). She said that such efforts will also push into action those around ‘victims’ as well as themselves to seek help. Current strategies were yielding results especially in terms of seeking help. For instance, the number of people who accessed mental health clinical services and reported they had attempted to commit suicide doubled between 2020 and 2021, according to information from Rwanda Biomedical Centre. However, obstacles still prevail, and mental health remains a challenge. An estimated 703,000 people a year take their life around the world. For every suicide, there are likely 20 other people making a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide. Millions of people suffer intense grief or are otherwise profoundly impacted by suicidal behaviours, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Recent statistics from Rwanda Investigation Bureau show that between June 2019 and July 2021, at least 579 people committed suicide. A study conducted by RBC in 2018, also showed that only 30 percent of the people who met the criteria for having mental disorders sought mental health support. Those who never sought the services cited challenges such as fear of stigma, limited financial means, and limited access to the services, while others said they were unaware of the urgency of the services. On September 10, the world marked World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). The day focuses attention on the suicide issue, reduces stigma, and raises awareness among organisations, the government, and the public, giving a singular message that suicide can be prevented. It also marks the beginning of suicide prevention awareness month which will end on October 10. In line with the month, Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) in collaboration with Solid Minds Counselling Clinic are organising an awareness campaign on suicide prevention, starting with youth. “Most of the time, a person who ends up committing suicide tries to give early signals, informing those around them how they feel through their behaviours, what they do, what they say, or how they think. “Sometimes, they even write about their feelings and post that on social media. They use their language like 'this life is boring' and 'I can’t fight anymore', and tell people, but because many of us do not have time or don’t understand, they end up not getting help,” Misago said. According to Dr. Jean-Pierre Ndagijimana, a Clinical Psychologist at Solid Minds, a counselling Clinic based in Kacyiru, committing suicide comes after multiple attempts that end up in resistance. He said some people then opt to take drugs to chase the ‘doubtful voices telling them to take their lives,’ which only pushes them to suicide. Ndagijimana also tackled how the media should report on suicide, saying that it’s not appropriate to provide certain details like a specific place where a person committed suicide, how they took their lives, why they did it, or even share publicly the note they left, declaring that those details can urge people with alarming suicidal thoughts when they relate to the person. He noted that pictures of the suicide scene shouldn’t also be shared, adding that media should instead focus on what people can do to prevent suicide and how they can seek help in case it happens. Ndagijimana declared that Solid Minds aims to raise awareness such that nobody commits suicide because they lack information or were given false information. If you notice a person with symptoms that can lead them to suicide, you reach out to them. First, ask them if they have suicidal thoughts and when they agree, ask them if they have planned it and if yes, at that stage, you don’t need to handle it yourself. You need to call for help and make sure that person doesn't stay alone, he said. Joel Tuyikunde, a youth, is aware that talking about suicide shades light on the matter, but urges people to ‘care.’ “We can know all symptoms of a person who is likely to commit suicide, but unless you intentionally ask someone, you won't be able to find out if it’s really what they are going through, he said. Be a safe space for that person and create hope for them. It’s better to question how they are behaving than realising what it meant when it’s late.