Sept 2021 1st edition

Help prevent suicide

Written by: Allison Cooper

More people die as a result of suicide than HIV, malaria, breast cancer, war and homicide.

This is according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest statistics, which show that over 700 000 people die by suicide each year – that is one in every 100 deaths and approximately one person every 40 seconds.

“We cannot – and must not – ignore suicide,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO.

“Each one is a tragedy. Our attention to suicide prevention is even more important now, after many months of living with the Coronavirus Disease pandemic, with many of the risk factors for suicide – job loss, financial stress and social isolation – still very much present,” he adds.

World Suicide Prevention Day

World Suicide Prevention Day was launched on 10 September 2003, by the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

It aims to prevent suicide and suicidal behaviour, alleviate its effects and provides a forum for academics, mental health professionals, crisis workers, volunteers and suicide survivors.

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), there are 23 suicides and 230 serious suicide attempts recorded in South Africa daily.

“Suicide is still a very taboo topic in our society – no one wants to talk about it; no one knows how to talk about it and parents don’t want to talk to their children about it in case it ‘plants ideas’. However, it is a very real issue, and can be seen by the increasing daily calls we receive,” says Cassey Chambers, SADAG’s Operations Director.

“If more people are aware of suicide and know how to get someone help before it’s too late, we can help reduce the suicide rate,” she says.

Possible suicide warning signs include:

  • Talking about ending one's life, dying or suicide.
  •  Strong wish to die or a preoccupation with death and dying.
  •  Giving away prized possessions.
  •  Signs of depression, such as moodiness, hopelessness, withdrawal, difficulty with appetite and sleep, and loss of interest in usual activities.
  •  Increased alcohol or drug use.
  •  Hinting about not being around in the future or saying goodbye.
  •  Drastic behaviour changes.
  •  Making arrangements to take care of unfinished business.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact SADAG’s 24-hour suicide crisis line at 0800 567 567.

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