Responsibility to eradicate suicide ‘belongs to everyone’

“The time to act against suicide is now.” This was the message of this year’s World Mental Health Day observed on Thursday 10 October.

Dylan Oktober, spokesperson for Cape Mental Health, says the responsibility of eradicating suicide does not rest on one sole entity or person.

“It requires support from an entire community to address the root causes that fuel the risk of suicide and to effectively combat suicide,” says Oktober.

This month, the organisation aligns its efforts to support the global discussion around suicide prevention and undertake to continue providing the necessary mental health services to the most vulnerable communities.

Dr Ingrid Daniels, director of Cape Mental Health and president-elect of the World Federation for Mental Health, says despite illnesses and neurological diseases being the third-highest burden in South Africa, on average only 4% of the health budget is spent on providing mental health services. “We have sufficient research and know the statistics, yet our country’s investment remains sorely lacking,” says Daniels.

The organisation is concerned about the growing gap in mental health services.

“Instead of scaling up, we are scaling back. How do we justify the policies, the declarations signed and the intentions that do not move beyond the actual investment in mental health?

“If we want to save lives and give people the dignity that they deserve, then it is time for us to act now. Everyone, everywhere has the right to mental health,” says Daniels.

According to a statement released by Cape Mental Health, South Africa is ranked within the top 50 countries with the highest suicide rate in the world.

The World Health Organisation’s 2016 recordings show 12,8 people had committed suicide per 100 000 of our population.

The number of suicide occurrences was recorded to be particularly more prevalent among men compared to women.

Every year approximately eight thousand people commit suicide, making it the third greatest cause of unnatural death within the country. This translates into nearly 667 recorded deaths every month. With every hour that passes in South Africa, there will be at least one fatal suicide.

According to senior psychology lecturer Jason Bantjes, for every fatal suicide recorded, there are an estimated 20 attempts. Statistics show young adults seem to be the most at-risk group to this epidemic. Youth between the ages of 19 and 24 years old are considered to be more at risk due to depression, suicidal thinking, self-harming and suicide attempts.

Cape Mental Health offers proactive mental healthcare services at no cost. Its counselling and support services include:

. Social Work Counselling programme: professional social workers help in the development of skills to cope with the stresses of everyday life.

. MindMatters: a programme for senior secondary schools in the South Peninsula that aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

. Fountain House: a community-based rehabilitation centre that provides vocational training and skills development to people with psychosocial disabilities.

. Rainbow Foundation: a community-based support group that focuses on providing psychosocial rehabilitation and keeping individuals living with a psychosocial disability well and out of hospitals.

. Corporate Employee Assistance programme: in partnership with Cape Mental Health, corporates can provide a counselling service as part of its employee assistance programme.

For more information, visit

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