Suicide at retirement village

2015-05-14 06:00

AN elderly woman committed suicide at Hibiscus Retirement Village in Margate last week.

Nona Neels (72) was found hanging by the village’s construction workers in a storeroom near her flat at the residence on Thursday morning.

Margate SAPS spokesperson Captain Gerald Mfeka said Margate SAPS has opened an inquest docket, but so far all evidence points it being suicide.

“The deceased’s body has been taken to undergo a post-mortem, but according to the report we received, Mrs Neels was depressed and had told her neighbours the previous night she was stressed.”

Hibiscus Retirement Village CEO John Webster said Mrs Neels, who lost her husband in June 2008, had been depressed for a while and had been seeing their in-house psychologist for her condition.

“She saw a psychologist in Durban last week and was also talking to some of the residents through our ‘buddy system’, so we were aware of her depression although no one can ever really know the extent of what another person is going through.”

He said in his 21 years at the village there had been four suicides.

“We are a retirement village, so depression is quite common. People get old, they lose their life partner­ and one day they decide they just can’t put up with it anymore. Although we have systems in place to prevent these types of situations from happening, you can’t really put people in cotton wool.”

He said that Mrs Neels’s suicide has saddened the staff and residents. Neels is survived by three sons who live in Durban and Johannesburg­.

Mrs Neels’s son Brian was too distraught to talk to the media.

Port Shepstone clinical psychologist Dr Catherin Venter said suicide is not very common among the elderly, but said it does happen.

“In most cases, when I get called by a hospital to deal with a suicide case, it is usually younger patients, but it does happen with the elderly as well.”

She said the main causes of suicide among the elderly could be loneliness, depression, illness, the feeling of purposelessness, rejection and abandonment by loved ones.

“Very often, patients of terminal illnesses only get treated for their physical illnesses, but it is very important that they get treated for psychological issues as well.

“They need to get counselled and given medication like anti-depressants for these problems to avoid suicide.

“Symptoms of suicidal elderly people can vary, but if they are terminally­ ill, first of all, as I said, they should get psychiatric and psychological­ treatment if they start to change, to withdraw from others and don’t enjoy the things they used to.”

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