South Coast suicides increase

2015-07-09 06:00

THERE has been a noticeable increase in suicides on the South Coast recently, with three people taking their lives during the past week alone.

According to information released by the South African Federation of Mental Health last week, South Africa has the eighth highest suicide rate in the world. It says 230 people try to commit suicide every day and 23 succeed.

Last week, an elderly man shot himself at the Block in Port Shepstone, a 13-year-old boy from Hibberdene was found hanging and the Umtwentweni fisherman who had been missing could be one of the cases.

Margate counselling psychologist Dr Bernadine James said often suicidal behaviour happens as an abnormal and excessive reaction to an identifiable life stressor or a combination of ongoing stressors. These could include financial difficulties, the loss of a loved one, marital problems, trauma (such as an attack or incident), ongoing abuse and coping with a severe illness.

“It is estimated that about 50% of people admitted to hospital for suicide attempts, fall into the above category. The other 50% is likely made up of people­ who have long-standing moderate to severe mental illness such as major depression, bipolar disorder and so on,” said James.

She has also noticed a recent marked increase in the number of people she is called to attend to who have found themselves in hospital due to suicidal behaviour.

“My experience has been that these are largely due to relationship problems, often combined with financial difficulties and alcohol and substance abuse.

“Often the person reaches a point where they feel very alone, without any hope. Sometimes, the attempt is fuelled by anger and an unconscious desperate attempt to get support from loved ones.”

She said the increasing cost of living due to the current financial recession can be said to contribute to the apparent rise in suicidal behaviour.

The reason for this could be that pensions remain fixed while prices increase.

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