Keeping Your Business in Mind

Varsity Launches Insights On Self -Harm, Marks Self-Injury Awareness Day

The Brain and Mind Institute, an entity of the Aga Khan University, has launched insights on self-harm to mark Self-Injury Awareness Day during a roundtable session that brought together persons with lived experiences, policymakers, researchers and providers of service who specialize in supporting individuals affected by suicide loss and self-harm.

The Brain and Mind Institute (BMI) has key hubs in Nairobi (for East Africa) and Karachi (for South and Central Asia). The BMI seeks to build capacity in the domains of brain health- mental health and neuroscience.

In collaboration with partners, the Institute is advancing research leadership capacity and support service delivery across East Africa and South Asia, and other regions served by the AKU.

The Institute supports a hub for scholarship exchange and action on brain health issues, as well as educational, clinical, and community-based programs.

BMI’s research focuses on the context of today’s youth in Africa and South Asia, while our programmatic offerings address mental health related and brain health issues, including stigma and resiliency.

A significant area of interest is the implementation of science-based programming in hospital and community settings that translate new discoveries into prevention and treatment programs.

The research interviewed people with lived suicide experiences through a focus group discussion. The research showed that 28 out of 33 people said no to the use of medication. 61% of the respondents who said no to medication were between the ages of 21 to 30 years.

This is an indication that youth prefer alternative forms of interventions and it may also indicate that younger audiences may shy away from medical treatment due to high medical costs.

Research findings also indicate that nearly 1 in every 2 people from the persons interviewed sought counselling and these were majorly 21–30-year-olds.

“The single most significant implication of this is that as mental health professionals and policymakers, we need to consider age-related differences in treatment preferences and tailor the interventions to persons with lived suicide experiences in developing more personalized treatment plans,” said Prof Lukoye Atwoli, Deputy Director Brain and Mind Institute and Dean of the Medical College, the Aga Khan University.

The report also indicates that 60.6% of the respondents indicated that they have had suicidal interventions. Of this, more men had suicidal ideations than women yet more women (51.5%) indicated that they had lost someone to suicide death.

“These findings may indicate that females are more likely to report suicide cases due to the caregiving role attached to the women in our society. From the research, we see that more men think about suicide but do not report it. This shows the patterns of suicide and harm in our society,” added Prof. Lukoye.

Suicide is the fourth leading cause of mortality among 15-29-year-olds according to the World Health Organisation. Around 11 people per 100,000 per year die by suicide in Africa, higher than the global average of 9 per 100,000 people.

“Self-harm is misunderstood. We need to find someone and start talking about it. We need to have these conversations with the persons with lived experiences and those around us and this is a great platform by the Brain and Mind Institute. Conversations around self-harm and suicide require collaborative efforts,” said Nadra Aley, a person with lived experience during the workshop.

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