SADAG: Suicide Awareness

According to the South African Depression & Anxiety Group (SADAG), 23 suicides and 230 serious attempts are recorded in South Africa per day. Awareness on mental distresses and disorders seem to be very minimal in our society unless we personally know someone experiencing it. Other times, we may not even know that a loved one feels suicidal or, if we do, we may not know how to help. Here are some important things to look out for to prevent suicide.

Not everyone is able to handle certain life changes as well as some can. This is not indicative of weak versus strong personalities, but the circumstances in which those changes occur can trigger suicidal thoughts.

Suicide triggers?

  1. Recent loss: of a loved one, a job, an income, livelihood, a relation, a pet.
  2. Major disappointment: failed examinations, missed job opportunities.
  3. Change in circumstances: separation/divorce, retirement, children leaving home.
  4. Mental disorder or physical illness/injury.
  5. Financial or legal problems.
  6. Traumatic experience: fire, rape, accident, etc.

How to help?

  1. Talk openly and directly about suicide.
  2. Listen with an open mind and be sincere – allow expression of feelings and be accepting.
  3. Do not judge or debate about the morality or immorality of suicide, and do not lecture about the value of life.
  4. Be available, show interest, support and be involved.
  5. Do not dare him or her to do it.
  6. Do not swear to secrecy, rather seek support.
  7. Ask for permission to contact a family member.
  8. Be proactive – get rid of any guns or stockpiled pills.
  9. Do not leave them alone, get help from someone specialised in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
  10. If necessary, get in touch with the police.

Suicidal thoughts occur in many people at some point or another in their lifetime. For most, the thoughts are fleeting as they come to realise the crisis is temporary and that they can be fixed, while death is permanent. However, some people believe their crisis is inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. Being aware of these feelings can be very helpful for yourself and others.

Common thoughts and emotions include:

  1. Unable to stop the pain
  2. Difficulty to think clearly
  3. Making decisions seems impossible
  4. Cannot see any way out
  5. Cannot sleep, eat or work
  6. Unable to get out of depression or sadness
  7. Cannot see a future without pain
  8. Unable to see themselves as worthwhile
  9. Unable to get someone’s attention
  10. Cannot seem to get control
  11. Feeling hopeless and helpless

These symptoms are not to be overlooked as a passing phase. If you notice them in anyone you know, please offer help. Contact the SADAG to talk to the person in need. Trained counsellors are available to help and refer you to local counsellors, facilities and support groups.


For more information:

0800 21 22 23 (08:00 to 20:00)
0800 12 13 14 (20:00 to 08:00)
Or SMS 31393

Information source and SADAG website here.

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