Why Aren’t We Talking Enough About Ramifications Of Depression?

The death of Anele “Nellie” Tembe, the fiancée of SA rap star AKA, has sparked a huge conversation about mental health.

While neither the Tembe family or AKA have confirmed or denied that Nellie had been suffering from mental health issues, the speculation has encouraged many people to come forward and share their own stories of depression and suicide.

Some agree that people make the decision to take their own lives shortly before doing so impulsively rather than planning it out extensively.

Others say there are many factors that can influence a person's decision to choose suicide - the most common one being severe depression.

While police are still investigating details surrounding Nellie’s death, according to paramedics, a woman had allegedly jumped from the 10th floor of a Cape Town hotel.

For the past year, many experts have worried about the mental health triggers of the pandemic – isolation, job loss, lockdowns, the constant reminders about sickness and death – could lead to an increase in suicides.

South Africa has a suicide mortality rate of 10.7 per 100 000 people, which is higher than the comparable rate for Botswana (9.7), Egypt (2.6), Malawi (5.5), and Nigeria (9.9).

While South Africa’s suicide mortality rate is lower than some countries in Africa – including Angola (20.5), Cameroon (11.9) and Swaziland (14.7) – suicide is a problem the country needs to tackle more effectively, said analyst Tawanda Makombo from Institute of Race Relations in a 2018 report.

You can’t see what a person is feeling on the inside, so it isn’t always easy to identify when someone is having suicidal thoughts.
Why Aren’t We Talking Enough About Ramifications Of Depression?
Why Aren’t We Talking Enough About Ramifications Of Depression?

However, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) says that some outward warning signs that a person may be contemplating suicide include:

1. Talking about suicide: The person may threaten to take his/her life. He/she may say things like “I wish I was dead” or something more subtle, such as “Nothing matters anymore”. Feeling deeply depressed, he/she may feel hopeless, lose interest in work, have crying spells, and not enjoy any of the things he/she used to like doing.

2. Isolation: A person may begin to withdraw from friends and family.

3. Showing a sudden lift in spirits: A sudden change in mood can mean that the person is thinking about suicide and is relieved that his/her problems will soon end.

4. Preparing for death: For example, her/she may make unexpected changes in his/her will or give away personal possessions.

5. Show changes in personality: The person may experience changes in eating, sleeping or sexual habits.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviours should be considered a psychiatric emergency. If you or someone you know is exhibiting either, you should seek immediate assistance from a healthcare provider. You could also include these tips from Sadag on how you can help a loved one:

  • A person who is suicidal needs to know you care. Listen to him/her. Ask questions. Help the person discuss his/her feelings.
  • Learn all you can about depression. You might be that person's only source of information. Let them know you care. Remind them that they shouldn't feel ashamed or guilty. Avoid telling them things like “Snap out of it”
  • Let them know their feelings are caused by an illness that can be treated. Invite them out. Realise they might not want to go at first. If they say no, ask them again later, or offer to stay in and spend time with them.
  • If you are worried they might be suicidal, ask them, and help them get help. A straightforward, caring question about suicide will not cause someone to start having suicidal thoughts. If they are thinking of suicide, don't promise secrecy. Tell someone you trust immediately.
  • Talk to the person about attending a support group meeting if there is one. It can help them to learn that they are not alone.
  • Make sure they do not have access to things that can cause injuries, like knives, guns, alcohol or drugs.
  • Do not take responsibility for making your friend or family member well. You are not a therapist. If the person is in immediate danger, take the person to a hospital, casualty, or to a clinic.

Source: www.iol.co.za

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