Suicide in Lockdown

Sharon Mathala

Popular activist overdoses at home

Terrified at the thought of being stuck in doors for the next 28 days, in the early hours of Thursday 2 April – a day before Botswana was due to go into lockdown – 23-year-old Kutlwano Selaledi took their own life.

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Selaledi, who was a gender non-conformist, meaning they did not regard themselves as either male or female, is said to have overdosed on their depression medication at their home in Palapye.

They were buried this Wednesday in a quiet ceremony at their home village of Gabane.

Described by friends and colleagues as a hero and lover of life, Selaledi, an unemployed law graduate from the University of Botswana, was said to have been battling with depression for some time

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It seems their fragile mental state could not handle the thought of four weeks of extreme social distancing and the loneliness this would involve.

According to a source close to the family, Selaledi, nicknamed Bubbly for their friendly nature, was found unconscious by their housemate. They were immediately rushed to hospital but certified dead upon arrival.

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“They overdosed on their depression pills. Selaledi had been suffering from depression but did not show any signs of wanting to take their life prior to the incident. They were as bubbly as their name,” insisted an insider.

Giving an insight into the crippling psychological torment raging inside them, on the day they died, at 00:36 in the morning, Selaledi posted on Facebook:

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“Much as I try to deny it, suicidal thoughts have been lingering in my head so much lately. I thought going back on my meds would be helpful but even with numbed emotions, I still stay in my head. Trust that the isolation isn’t helping because yes that just means ample time for me to be in my head and it sucks coz my support system isn’t as strong as I’d wish it would be.”

Six hours later, Selaledi’s last message reads simply, “I’m sorry.”

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They died soon after.

Tributes have since been pouring in on social media for the popular activist. The Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) organisation, to which Selaledi was closely associated, took to Facebook to offer their own heartfelt condolence.

“Bubbly was an activists, a friend, family, confidante, lover and a hero. We will always and forever remember you and we know that you are in a better place and that all the Earthly burdens have been lifted from your shoulders. You are and always will be a true shining star,” reads part of the message.

Warning that depressed people will be especially vulnerable during lockdown, a close associate of the deceased, who wished not to be named, urged the government to intervene.

“Government should consider looking into depression patients and how they are going to help them. I don’t know how but I foresee a lot of incidents like this.”

Meanwhile, confirming the sad incident, Palapye Station Commander, Beggar Nawa told The Voice, “We received a report of suicide of a 23-year-old. We don’t have any other details on the matter as it is still fresh.”

Efforts to get a comment from the deceased’s family proved futile at the time of going to press. Selaledi’s Aunt shared that she was already at the farm and could not talk.

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