Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10,
mental health organisations have embarked on raising awareness of depression – the
leading cause of many suicides.
According to South African Anxiety and Depression Group
(SADAG), the recent suicides of beloved figures Professor Bongani Mayosi,
American fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain have
left the world stunned by the effects of suicide and depression.
An important opportunity
All of these public
figures were hugely successful and surrounded by family, friends and admirers –
making them a reminder of how prevalent depression and suicide are all over
the world. Suicide can devastate entire families and communities.
“We need to get people help before it is too late,”
commented an official from SADAG, explaining that in South Africa, one in three
people will or do have a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Every
day there are 23 completed suicides in South Africa, and a further 460
Nicole Breen of the South African Federation of Mental
Health (SAFMH), says: “This represents an important opportunity to reflect on
past interventions surrounding this cause, to examine present ones and to look
towards what we want to see in the future. It is an area both neglected and
stigmatised in our country – with no real state-implemented initiatives to curb
this phenomenon. Suicide needs to be taken seriously because of the damage it
does – both to the person tragically committing suicide and the people left
Taboo in many societies
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) about 800
000 people die of suicide every year. This amounts to one individual every 40
seconds, accounting for 1.4% of all deaths across the world. Among young people
it is the second leading cause of death and a real cause for concern.
“In many instances, when a person is feeling suicidal, they
feel isolated and as though they cannot seek help. This may be – as is all too
often the case – that adequate help is not available. It may also, however, be
as a result of actual or perceived stigma. Suicide is taboo in many societies
and people may be concerned that feeling suicidal is a display of weakness and
that stigma needs to be dispelled,” says Breen.
For more help on depression and suicide, contact SADAG on
0800567 567 or SAFMH 011 781-1852. – Health-e News.
Image credit: iStock