The CVT Ethiopia-Gambella team hosted special activities on Sept 10 for two important occasions: World Suicide Prevention Day and the eve of the Ethiopian New Year, 2013.
Using the theme R U OK?, adapted from an Australian suicide prevention organization, the team approached this as a day of action to ask about our well-being, to take action, to educate, and to ask how others may be struggling in life. Sandra Githaiga, psychotherapist/trainer, CVT Ethiopia-Gambella, noted that this is, “a day of action when we remind each other that every day is the day to ask, ‘Are you OK?’”
Sandra commented that 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone and circumstances have made it even more important for us all to stay connected and, for those who are able, be willing to support those around us. “Especially when more of us are isolated because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to reach out and see how others are doing,” Sandra said. “With this day of action, we hope to educate others that they do not need to be psychologists to ask how their loved ones and neighbors are doing. Starting the conversation is the first step in helping people feel supported. And at CVT, we know that our care is available to people who need help.”
The CVT-Gambella team held a march through the camp, broadcasting psychoeducation messages on how to support community members who may be thinking of suicide. The face mask in this photo that reads “Yaak” is one printed especially for CVT – it means “No Torture.”
In addition, the team distributed two brochures to leadership in the camp, one with information about how to ask R U OK?, and the second covering suicide psychoeducation. These outreach activities were conducted in the camp as well as Gambella town, where counselors went through the kebeles (neighborhoods/wards) and distributed the brochures to residents in their local languages: Nuer and Anywaa.
And the day was also important because it was the eve of the Ethiopian New Year, in accordance with the Ethiopian calendar. Bol Buony Nyuot, counseling supervisor, CVT Ethiopia-Gambella, commented “While celebrating the eve of Ethiopian’s New Year, 2013, we have to keep in our mind that September 10, 2020 is also World Suicide Prevention Day and take action and ask how others are struggling in life.” He added, “On this World Suicide Prevention Day, let us be a source of encouragement to our friends, family and loved ones so that we can build them up and help them move forward in life.”
In addition to the outreach in the refugee camp, the team shared information about the complexities of suicide and the stigma that can surround the topic. Sandra said, “The way we talk about suicide is important – suicide is often a result of underlying mental health problems, like depression and trauma – the very things that survivors of torture come to CVT for help overcoming. When someone dies by suicide, we can talk about it in a way that helps people understand that they may have lost their battle with a deeply challenging disease. We can help reduce judgement of these individuals and help others recognize that help is available.”
The team received a warm welcome to their outreach efforts, shared helpful materials, and made connections with many in the camp. The CVT Ethiopia-Gambella team wishes everyone a Happy World Suicide Prevention Day and Happy Ethiopian New Year, 2013.
We also ask everyone: Are You OK?
CVT appreciates the materials and information provided by R U OK? Australia, https://www.ruok.org.au/, which were adapted for use in our context.