In South Africa, there is a suicide nearly every hour, and there are 20 attempts for every death. According to the World Health Organisation, we have the eighth highest suicide rate in the world. Suicide is the third-greatest cause of unnatural death in the country.

SYMPTOMS OF SUICIDE RISK (Similar to Depression)

  • Change in personality, i.e. sad, withdrawn, indecisive, and apathetic.
  • Change in behaviour
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Change in eating habits
  • Loss of interest in friends and activities previously enjoyed
  • Feeling helpless and worthless
  • Overwhelming guilt, shame, self-hatred
  • No hope for the future
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Suicidal impulses, statements, giving away favourite things


  1. Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone. …
  2. Let the suicidal person unload despair, ventilate anger. …
  3. Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. …
  4. Offer hope. …
  5. Take the person seriously. Ask what they plan to do and how. The more detailed the plan the higher the risk.
  6. Do not be afraid to ask someone if they feel so bad that they have contemplated suicide. This will not ‘give someone the idea’ and it can in fact be a great relief to the person to bring this into the open and talk about it.
  7. Do not leave a suicidal person alone if there is immediate danger. Nearly everyone can be helped if they have someone to listen to them and help them feel worthwhile and wanted.
  8. Do not judge, criticise or reject.

Suicide is that it is a way of taking “control” and a way of stopping the “emotional pain they are in”.   They very often do not see any other alternative and become focused on this as a “solution”.  They might even reason that everyone is better off without them.


1. Remember, when people have bipolar depression, the risk of suicide may be the greatest as the depression lifts.  While depressed they are unable to mount the energy to plan and execute a suicide.  Once the depression lifts, this is when they can have the energy to do it.


2. Drinking alcohol when depressed can be very dangerous as alcohol narrows one’s thinking ability and one starts to focus only on the problem and one is therefore not able to see other options or possible solutions.