Self-harm deaths are preventable, but it starts with knowing what to look for and what to do. pic: pexels.com

Durban - Durban resident, Chante Shunmugam, is hosting a candle lighting ceremony commemorating World Suicide Prevention Day on Monday. 

Chanté Shunmugam is calling on residents to join her at the uMhlanga Pier from 6:30pm. 

Posting on her Facebook page, Shunmugam said the ceremony is to remember those who have taken their lives and those who wake up every morning contemplating suicide. 

"Suicide, whispers that it is hope in some of our darkest times. It takes our hand and says that it provides a solution. It makes it seem like it is that friend we lean on. Awareness starts with us, movement starts with us, change starts with us," she said. 

According to the World Health Organisation, South Africa has the sixth highest rate of suicides in Africa, with at least 11 out of every 100 000 people in the country contemplating suicide.

It is commonly accepted that the majority of suicides and suicide attempts occur among individuals who suffer from undiagnosed and untreated depression, with the WHO estimating that more than 300 million people are affected by depression worldwide.

According to Cipla’s Wouter Lombard, in light of #WorldSuicidePreventionDay on Monday,  it should be emphasised that depression is in fact a medical condition.

“Just as any other organ in the body can become ill or affected, so too can the brain. Various factors –  not just chemical imbalances within certain sections of the brain, can lead to various mental illnesses, including depression,” Lombard said.

He said that depression is a medical condition that can be diagnosed and treated. 

“It is believed that around 50 % of individuals with depression do not receive treatment. Some of the signs and symptoms of depression include problems concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions, fatigue, feelings of guilt, hopelessness, insomnia, irritability, restlessness, loss of interest in things once pleasurable, overeating or appetite loss, persistent feelings of sadness and suicidal thoughts," he said. 

“If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is advisable to seek professional help. Depression does not simply go away, and there is no shame in seeking help for it,” Lombard added. 

According to information put together by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), there are a number of warning signs to indicate that someone is at risk of suicide. These signs include previous suicideattempts, talking about death or suicide, statements such as "my family would be better off without me", withdrawing from friends and family, symptoms of depression, moodiness, changes in sleeping patterns, changes in appetite or weight, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach or guilt, extreme anxiety, agitation,  excessive drug and / or alcohol use, giving away prized possessions, writing a will and making funeral arrangements5.

According to SADAG, individuals with suicidal thoughts can be empowered to seek help by understanding and identifying the warning signs within themselves.

Whether you are helping a friend, or need help yourself, contact the SADAG suicide helpline on 0800 567 567 or visit www.sadag.org for more information and help.

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