Understanding suicide among diaspora-born youths in Zim

By examining unique challenges faced by diaspora-born youths, we can gain a better understanding of the root causes of their vulnerability to suicide.

Media reports highlighting suicides among Zimbabweans born in the diaspora are deeply concerning.

Time has come for Zimbabweans to understand the underlying factors contributing to this distressing trend.

By examining unique challenges faced by diaspora-born youths, we can gain a better understanding of the root causes of their vulnerability to suicide.

It is crucial to address this issue proactively and implement effective strategies to support the mental health and well-being of these individuals.

 Cultural identity, sense of belonging

One of the key factors contributing to this problem is the struggle to establish a solid cultural identity and sense of belonging.

Growing up in a foreign country often means being distanced from Zimbabwean traditions, values, and customs.

These individuals may experience a profound sense of disconnection, feeling like they do not fully belong to either their country of birth or their ancestral homeland.

This identity crisis can lead to feelings of isolation, alienation, and an overwhelming sense of not fitting in, which can significantly impact their mental well-being and increase suicide risks.

Family expectations and pressure

Diaspora-born youths often face immense pressure to succeed academically, professionally, and socially. Parents and extended family members may have high expectations, hoping that their children will achieve great success as a result of the opportunities provided by their new environment.

This pressure can create a significant burden, leading to feelings of inadequacy, fear of failure, and intense stress.

In some cases, the weight of these expectations becomes unbearable, contributing to feelings of hopelessness and despair that can lead to suicide.

Social isolation and loneliness

Moving to a foreign country can result in social isolation and profound loneliness for diaspora-born youths.

They often leave behind established support networks, friends, and familiar environments, making it challenging to build new connections in their adopted country.

The struggle to integrate into a different social and cultural context can be overwhelming, leading to feelings of isolation and a lack of meaningful relationships.

Without a strong support system, these individuals may face heightened vulnerability to mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, which can ultimately escalate into suicidal thoughts and actions.

Cultural stigma and mental health

The stigma surrounding mental health within Zimbabwean communities, both in the diaspora and in Zimbabwe, can exacerbate the challenges faced by those born in other countries.

Cultural beliefs, misconceptions, and the fear of judgment can prevent individuals from seeking help or openly discussing their struggles. The pressure to maintain a positive image and the perception of success can further discourage them from seeking support.

Consequently, those experiencing mental health challenges may suffer in silence, exacerbating the feeling of despair and increasing the risk of suicide.

The problem needs urgent attention and a proactive response.

To address this alarming trend, it is vital to foster a supportive environment that promotes cultural understanding, acceptance, and open discussions about mental health.

Efforts should be directed towards creating accessible mental health services, raising awareness about the challenges faced by diaspora-born youths, and providing platforms for them to connect with their cultural heritage.

By addressing these underlying factors and offering support, we can strive to prevent further tragedies and ensure the well-being of diaspora-born youths in Zimbabwe.

Information has the power to protect Zimbabwean nationals in diaspora.

  • Mutisi is the CEO of Hansole Investments (Pvt) Ltd and the current chairperson of Zimbabwe Information & Communication Technology, a division of Zimbabwe Institution for Engineers.

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