Suicide Facts In South Africa: Did You Know 18 Men End Their Lives Each Day?


Suicide Facts In South Africa – Sunday, 10th September was World Suicide Prevention Day for 2017.  As culled from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest suicide fact sheet, about 800,000 people die every year due to suicide.

For every suicide, there are much more people who attempt suicide every year. WHO stipulated that a prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.

While the act of taking one’s own life voluntarily is the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds; 78% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries. And, ingestion of pesticide, hanging, and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally.

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Suicide Facts In South Africa, Those At Risk

It’s said that there’s a strong link between suicide and mental disorders, particularly, depression and alcohol use disorders. Most suicides occur impulsively in moments of crisis related to a breakdown and lack of courage in facing life challenges like financial problems, relationship break-up, chronic pain, and illness.

Also, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, loss and a sense of isolation have been associated with suicidal behavior.

Likewise, suicide rates are high among those who suffer discrimination. The groups identified here include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) persons; prisoners, refugees, and migrants. In all, the strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.

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Five Disturbing Suicide Facts In South Africa

True, suicide facts in South Africa is frightening. But, it’s not as horrifying and spine-chilling like those of nations like Lithuania and South Korea. In Africa, it’s believed Mzansi is better-off than countries like Mozambique and Tanzania. Nonetheless, the facts as highlighted below are scary.

1. About 18 Men End Their Lives Each Day In South Africa

This was divulged by Garron Gsell of Men’s Foundation – an NGO which among other things, is devoted to providing help on mental health issues facing the South African male population.

Men’s Foundation believes untreated mental health conditions carry a high risk for suicide among men.

Commenting on the essence of the World Suicide Prevention Day, Gsell reportedly said:

“South African has the eighth-highest suicide rate in the world. It’s a crisis when we’re losing the futures of 18 men daily in the country and we don’t talk about it … In most cases, men are the breadwinners for their families which puts a great amount of pressure on them.

When they are unable to provide they are left feeling inadequate and overwhelmed to the point that they feel that they can’t talk about it and the only way out is to end their lives.”

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2. Someone Commits Suicide In South Africa Every One Hour

If suicide happens in the country every one hour, how many South Africans die every week, month and in a year due to suicide? Do the maths and let your jaw drop.

Sometime in 2014, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) divulged that South Africa records 23 suicides every 24 hours.

Prof Lourens Schlebusch stated that there are at least 23 suicides a day in South Africa. The figure according to Schlebusch may have been underestimated due to the stigma associated with suicide.

Other facts that came with the Sadag fact are as under listed:

  • 10% of all unnatural deaths in adults and 9.5% in youth are because of suicide.
  • Almost two-thirds of all suicide victims are between 20 and 39 years old.
  • There are 4.6 male suicides for every one female suicide.
  • One in four teens has attempted suicide.

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How To Control And Prevent Suicide

Suicides are preventable. WHO said the following should be done to control and prevent them:

  1. Reducing access to the means of suicide (e.g. pesticides, firearms, certain medications);
  2. reporting by media in a responsible way;
  3. introducing alcohol policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol;
  4. early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress;
  5. training of non-specialized health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behavior;
  6. follow-up care for people who attempted suicide and provision of community support.