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Malawi’s Chikamwini Ceremony linked to high suicide rates

A traditional marriage ceremony in Malawi’s Chiradzulu District has been blamed for contributing to a high number of suicide cases among men.

The Chikamwini ceremony, which involves a man moving to his wife’s village, has been cited as a factor in approximately 300 attempted and 99 completed suicides in the past year, according to records from Chiradzulu District Hospital.

This revelation came to light during a meeting between APPCAN Lifeline Malawi and Chiradzuru community leaders on suicide prevention.

The meeting, held on Friday, brought together local traditional leaders, church leaders, Village Development Committees (VDCs) and mental health advocates to address the pressing issue of mental health and suicide prevention in Chiradzuru, Malawi.

“For instance, a man moves to stay with his wife, and after acquiring wealth the woman chases the man away, leaving him homeless, resulting in suicide,” Henderson Mhango, Deputy Director of APPCAN Lifeline Malawi, told Malawi Voice during the meeting.

Innocent Nyangulu, Mental Health Coordinator for Chiradzulu Hospital, added: “We have a culture that says men don’t cry. This is another issue contributing to the high number of suicide cases among men. Time has come for men to bury the culture of silence.”

The district’s Gender Coordinator, Magret Samali, urged individuals to seek help when traumatized.

“People should seek guidance and psychological counseling when they are traumatized. We need to work together to prevent suicide cases in our district.”

APPCAN Lifeline Malawi is working with community leaders to address mental health and suicide prevention, and is advocating for a change in laws that criminalize suicide attempts.

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