South Africa has the world’s eighth highest suicide rate while four out of five suicides are of men.
These startling statistics were revealed on Saturday September 9, which was World Suicide Prevention Day.
On the day, more than 200 pairs of shoes were laid out on the Sea Point Promenade each pair representing the imprint of the South African man who once walked in them.
The event was organised by the Movember Foundation, a global men’s health charity focused on men’s health initiatives, suicide prevention and testicular and prostate cancer.
Suicide survivor Daryl Brown said the most important message to those suffering from depression was “you’re not alone”.
Mr Brown attempted to take his own life four years ago by jumping in front of a train in the London underground.
He said that at the time he felt hopeless and isolated.
Now back in Cape Town and living in Melkbosstrand, he uses his personal experience to spread awareness and break the stigma of mental health.
“After my attempt, so many of my friends came to me and said they’d been going to therapy for years. We’ve been going through the same thing but never speaking about it.”
He encouraged people to speak out to a relative, friend or a professional.
“There are so many people who are suffering from depression and feel alone. You are not alone,” said Mr Brown.
He said that he first saw a therapist two months after attempting to take his own life. “It was a turning point for me,” he added.
Garron Gsell, chief executive and founder of the Men’s Foundation, said: “It’s a crisis when we’re losing the futures of 18 men daily in this country and we don’t talk about it or the public is not aware of it. As Movember, we are leading this charge, as we’ve done with prostate and testicular cancer, to address the health issues affecting South African men.”
Mr Gsell added that: “There is a general perception that vulnerability is a sign of weakness, but it is actually a sign of great strength.
“When men struggle to cope, we see it as something shameful and a sign of weakness, not knowing that other men are facing the same challenges and feeling that we are incapable.”
The Men’s Foundation aims to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25% by 2030 through its prostate cancer and mental health campaigns.
Useful emergency lines are:
Lifeline: 0861 322 322
Suicide Crisis Line: 0800 567 567
SADAG Mental Health Line: 011 234 4837