Men are more likely to commit suicide, said the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) on World Suicide Prevention Day – Monday 10 September.

According to the organisation, almost five times more men kill themselves compared to women.

“We get calls everyday from men thinking about putting an end to it all. Many callers already have a plan – and the means to carry it out,” said Janine Shamos of SADAG. “There’s a lot of pressure on South African men. They are expected to fulfil many roles – protector, provider, ‘one of the boys’- yet are still not given a safe outlet for the stress and emotional pain.”

SADAG said that the belief that women suffer more from depression than men is untrue, adding that over the past few years not only has the suicide rate increased but men are increasingly using more lethal means of taking their lives. Most deaths from hanging were males ages 20 – 30 and the majority (66%) of poisoning suicides were male, according to the organisation.

So, why do almost five times more men kill themselves compared to women, and why are men more successful at killing themselves than women? “When men choose to take their lives, they do so in ways that leave very little or no room for rescue,” said Shamos. “Because of the social stigma, men don’t often ask for help so we often don’t know there’s a problem until it’s much too late.”

“The topic of suicide is still largely taboo and is not a topic men are likely to casually chat about over a beer,” commented Dr Korb. “We need to create awareness and destigmatise mental illness – and make it okay for men to ask for help. That’s the only way we’re going to reduce the ever-growing suicide trend amongst men,” he said.

SADAG’s suicide warning signs include the person talking about suicide or death, being pre-occupied with death and dying, withdrawing from friends and social activities, giving away prized possessions and having a family history of suicide, among other clues.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s lines are open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week on 011 783 1474/6. The suicide crisis line is on 0800 567 567.

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