“Leave us alone; we want to die.” This was what a note left by an elderly Queenswood couple who gassed themselves in their garage said.
A gardener made the shocking discovery late on Tuesday afternoon when he heard a vehicle idling in the garage. He found the couple, along with their dog, dead in a Bantam bakkie.
Police spokeswoman Marinda Austin-Swanepoel on Wednesday confirmed the death of the couple and said it was estimated that they had been dead for at least 24 hours by the time they were found.
She said she could not release their names as their next of kin had not been told.
“As far as we know, the man, 65, and the woman, 60, were not married but lived together,” she said.
Austin-Swanepoel said a flask and two cups were found with them as well as a suicide note. They did not give a reason for the suicide.
“They were both sitting upright in the bakkie and no foul play is suspected. An inquest docket has been opened,” she said.
An elderly neighbour, who did not want to be named, said he did not know the couple but had greeted them “every now and then”. He said they were very quiet and he hardly ever saw them.
“I saw the police cars outside yesterday (Tuesday) and I was wondering what was going on,” he said. He said he was shocked to hear the news.
In the meantime, it is suspected another man committed suicide on the R21 highway on Wednesday. The 42-year-old man was reported to the police by passers-by who suspected something was wrong.
Police spokeswoman Captain Pinky Tsinyane said officers found the man in his grey VW Golf GTI.
“We are not sure of his identity or where he was going, but an inquest docket has been opened,” she said.
Tsinyane could not confirm if the man killed himself or if he was murdered.
“The police are investigating the matter and all will be revealed once investigations are concluded,” she said.
Cassey Chambers, operations director at the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), said in SA hanging was the method that was mostly often employed in suicide, followed by shooting, gassing and burning.
“There are 23 suicides every 24 hours in the country, and a further 230 attempted suicides every day. If a person has attempted suicide before, he or she may try again. About 75 percent of people who commit suicide tell someone first,” she said.
Recent suicides which made headlines were those of Afrikaans actor Andrew Thompson in March and Brian Plaatjies, a captain at the Lyttelton police station, two weeks ago.
For more information visit Sadag’s website or call the suicide crisis helpline at 080 056 7567 or 080 021 2223.
Sadag provides free telephone counselling seven days a week from 8am to 8pm. For its 24-hour helpline number, call 080 012 1314.
* Talking about death or suicide – be aware of statements like “my family will be better off without me”.
* Depression – obvious sadness or withdrawing from previous enjoyable activities.
* Preparing for death – someone getting all their financial and legal affairs in order.
* Sudden change in mood – the person may be feeling relieved that they have now found a solution to their problems and that their problems will soon end.
* Change in sleeping patterns.
* Change in appetite or weight.
* Fatigue or loss of energy.
* Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach or guilt.
* Extreme anxiety, agitation or rage.
* Excessive drug or alcohol abuse.
* Previous history of mental or physical illness.