Men are five times more likely to commit suicide than women, the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) said on Monday, World Suicide Day.
"There is a lot of pressure on South African men. They are expected to fulfil many roles: protector, provider, 'one of the boys' - yet are still not given a safe outlet for the stress and emotional pain," said SADAG senior counsellor and trainer Janine Shamos.
SADAG psychiatrist, Dr Frans Korb, said men rarely sought help for conditions like depression, therefore increasing the likelihood of them attempting suicide.
"The topic of suicide is still largely taboo and is not a topic men are likely to casually chat about over a beer," said Korb.
Men chose ‘lethal’ methods
Men are also likely to choose more "lethal" methods of committing suicide. According to SADAG most deaths by hanging were carried out by males between the ages of 20 and 30, and 66 percent of suicide by poisoning was among men.
"When men choose to take their lives, they do so in ways that leave very little or no room for rescue. Because of the social stigma men don't often ask for help so we often don't know there is a problem until it is much too late," said Shamos.
She urged people to call the SADAG helpline, open from 8am to 8pm, at 011-783-1474/6, or their suicide crisis line on 0800-567-567.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said its focus for World Suicide Day 2007 was on preventing suicide among all age groups.
"This theme has been adopted to emphasise that people of all ages commit suicide and that actions to prevent suicide included in national responses should meet the needs of different age groups," the WHO said in a statement.
’Someone commits suicide every 30 seconds’
The organisation estimates that, on average, almost 3 000 people commit suicide every day.
"Every 30 seconds, the loss of a person who killed themselves shatters the lives of family and friends. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt suicide."
It said that suicide rates had increased by 60 percent globally, especially in developed countries.
"Although reported suicide is now among the three leading global causes of death among young people aged 15-34 years, the majority of suicides are reported in adults and older adults (60 years and older)," the WHO said.
The organisation said governments needed to commit to "defining national responses" in order to prevent suicide among all age groups. –(Sapa)
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