Don’t become a statistic

On an average day in South Africa there are 23 suicides and another 20 suicide attempts.

The month of September is Suicide Awareness Month and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) stated this number could be higher as suicide is under-reported.

“75 per cent of people who attempt suicide give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member. Therefore, it is vital for loved ones to know the warning signs and symptoms of suicide,” said clinical psychologist and SADAG board member, Zamo Mbele.

Warning signs include:

  • An individual talking about suicide and saying things like “I wish I was dead”.
  • Feelings of extreme depression and losing interest in once loved hobbies.
  • Withdrawing from family, friends and isolating oneself.
  • A sudden change in moods and finding relief in the thought of suicide.
  • The giving away of personal possessions.
  • Changes in eating, sleeping and sexual habits.

Psychologist Gregory Eccles said many people do not know how to respond to suicide, suicide attempt, and suicidal ideation (the feeling of wanting to commit suicide).

“Some might frame suicide attempts as selfish acts accusing the individual of not caring for those around them. Suicidal ideation is often brushed off, painted as someone being over dramatic or dismissed as an empty threat.

“The truth is that a suicidal person is scared to face it head on – mortality can be a frightening concept,” said Eccles.

If you or a loved one are seeking help, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) provides free telephonic counselling, information and nationwide referrals to support groups, psychologists, psychiatrists, clinics and more.

Online resources such as brochures, articles, self-help tips and videos can be found at

The SADAG toll-free helpline number is 0800 70 80 90 and SMS line: 31393

The phone lines are open seven days a week, every day of the year, from 8am to 8pm.

Stephan Lehman

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