The facts about suicide

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With numerous suicides over the past year experts say it is important to know the warning signs indicating suicidal tendencies and to obtain basic knowledge that could save a life one day.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) says suicide is the leading cause of human deaths worldwide, with roughly one suicide every two minutes. The number of suicide attempts is up to 20 times the number of deaths by suicide.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), established over 20 years ago, is a non-profit organisation that focuses on education and destigmatisation of mental illness and suicide prevention in South Africa.

According to Casey Amoore, counselling services manager for SADAG, the organisation’s professional counselling staff receive between 150 and 200 calls a day, most with problems such as debt, financial strain, unemployment and retrenchment.

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems, with one in three people suffering from this.

Naazia Ismail, project manager at SADAG, says that one of the main differences between feeling sad and depression is time.

“Most people have moments when they feel sad. That’s normal. But if the feeling of sadness persisites for more than two weeks, it is likely you are depressed. This, alongside symptoms such as the inability to sleep or eat, poor personal hygiene and withdrawal from activities, is the basis for the diagnosis of depression,” says Ismail.

Besides depressions, the three top danger signs of possible suicide include previous suicide attempts, talking about death or suicide, and planning for suicide like getting personal affairs in order.

“Many [people] are not coping financially or emotionally”, says SADAG’s Amoore.

“They don’t talk to friends or family because of the social stigma and their one support system isn’t there. They call needing advice and support.”

SADAG offers support, advise, information and referral to patients as well as loved ones.

Their Suicide Crisis Line 0800 567 567, Substance Abuse Line 0800 12 13 14, and SMS (32312) are open 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm.

“Our counsellors are there when, for many people, no-one else is”, says Amoore.

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