Suicide crisis soars in SA: A look at men in the entertainment industry who lost their lives to suicide

File photo: Last month, veteran actor Patrick Shai died by suicide at his home in Soweto. Picture: Supplied

File photo: Last month, veteran actor Patrick Shai died by suicide at his home in Soweto. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 23, 2022


Camera, lights and action, celebrities, they seem to have it all.

The fame and fortune but it appears that they are still not happy, proving that happiness is inclusive and no amount of money and fame can buy it.

Recently, we have been seeing a lot of celebrities who have been found either dead in hotel rooms or in their homes with little to no explanation on what led to them taking their lives.

Today, the news of local hip hop pioneer Riky Rick’s death came as a shock to many. The rapper was always outspoken about his mental health and chronic depression.

Last month, veteran actor Patrick Shai died by suicide at his home in Soweto.

Last year, Arendsvlei actor Ceagan Arendse’s family confirmed that the 34-year-old actor from Paarl suffered from depression and died by suicide.

Also last year, Yizo Yizo actor Jabu Christopher Hubheka, who was known as Gunmen, made the headlines after it was reported by TshisaLIVE that the actor hanged himself last month in his Soshanguve, Pretoria home.

The prevalence of suicidality in our community points to the mental health crisis we are facing as a society.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) sounded the alarm in September 2021 over the high rates of suicide in South Africa. They reported receiving more than 75 000 calls from suicidal South Africans since January.

Speaking to IOL, Cassey Chambers, SADAG operations director said men were five times more likely to die by suicide than women. “They often use more aggressive methods. While women may be diagnosed with depression more than men, men don’t speak about their feelings till it is too late.”

Chambers also added that regardless of gender “every suicide attempt or mention should be taken seriously – 75% of people who committed suicide tell someone first.”

The World Health Organization published their 2019 Global Health Estimates Suicide report on June 16 2021. The report gives a breakdown of suicide rates per country.

According to the report, 13 774 suicides were reported in South Africa in 2019. Of these deaths, 10 861 were men while 2 913 were women. This translates to rates of 37.6 per 100 000 for men and 9.8 per 100 000 for women.

South Africa recorded the third-highest suicide rate out of all African countries in the report, at 23.5 per 100 000 population.

While the severity of mental health is severe, it is often ignored, as attitudes and stigma toward mental health persist.

To get help, you can call the Childline South Africa 24-hour helpline at no cost on 116, or you can visit the online counselling chat rooms at

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group can be contacted on 0800 121 314, or send an SMS to 32312 and a counsellor will call you back.

If you identify any warning signs from anyone around you, get them help, you could potentially save a life.

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