Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Editorial: Stopping suicide is a collective challenge

It is referred to as suicide, or taking your own life. 

The simple definition in a dictionary says suicide refers to “a person who has killed themselves intentionally”. Note the use of the singular form, “self”, or “a person”. 

Without putting the blame on others when someone dies of suicide, it is worth mentioning that although it is a one-person act, no person lives in total isolation. There are family, friends, neighbours, people you brush shoulders with on a daily basis — colleagues, the person you greet on the street, the cashier at your local convenience store, the petrol attendant — the list is long. How then is it possible that people, even children, suffer in silence? 

More than a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group says it receives more than 2 200 distress calls a day. Before the pandemic, it received 600 calls. 

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics on suicide, based on data from 2019 (pre-pandemic), suicide is among the three leading causes of death among people aged 15 to 44. In fact, 55% of all suicide deaths are among people between those ages.

But most concerning is the WHO’s finding that rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent that they are now the group at the highest risk in a third of the world’s countries.

What happened to Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child O’ Mine

“Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky … 

She’s got eyes of the bluest skies 

As if they thought of rain

I’d hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain.” 

In what place do our children find themselves when those younger than 13 years old decide to take their own lives?

According to the WHO report, suicide results from many “complex sociocultural factors, and is more likely to occur during periods of socioeconomic, family and individual crisis”. 

World Suicide Prevention Day falls on 10 September. This year the theme was “creating hope through action”.  

Let us take action by implementing preventive measures to address the problems plaguing young people. Let us help them develop coping skills. 

Look at your family, a friend, a person you brush shoulders with daily and ask a simple question: “How are you?” And then listen.

Vote for an informed choice

We’re dropping the paywall this week so that everyone can access all our stories for free, and access the information they need in the run up to the local government elections. To follow the news, sign up to our daily elections newsletter for the latest updates and analysis.

If our coverage helps inform your decision, cast your vote for an informed public and join our subscriber community. Right now, you can a full year’s access for just R510. Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Malema: ANC will use load-shedding to steal votes

While on the campaign trail in the Eastern Cape, EFF leader Julius Malema, without evidence, claimed the ANC was planning to use rolling blackouts to ‘steal votes’

Khaya Koko: The looting isn’t over until the fat belly...

A song about Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane preventing looting was way off the mark in a province riddled with corruption and theft

Eskom will try to avoid blackouts during local government elections

Chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer said the ailing state power utility’s staff would be on standby as South Africans cast their votes on 1 November

‘Terribly scary’: Dysfunctional municipalities are a threat to South Africa’s...

The country’s local governments are a drag on investment, a strain on the fiscus and pose a critical sovereign risk
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×