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The Silent killer: Suicide

The Silent killer: Suicide

Personal message

It was late one Saturday evening in March 2019, when my phone rang... My husband answered the call, it was my Dad’s number but on the other side of the phone... was my parent’s Pastor...

That night my brother, the big brother that always looked after his little sister, the big brother that taught me so many things, the brother I was so proud of the day he became head boy and even prouder the day he became a pilot....that brother was gone, without saying a word, without saying goodbye... he died from suicide!

A shock wave went through our family and the community... the weeks to follow were the toughest and most terrifying time of my life... I can’t remember a lot, planning the memorial service, my wonderful husband handled everything, from the police coming in and out of our house, the press that tried to pull us all apart to the funeral flowers and snacks...

But the One thing that I can remember ( as if it was yesterday) was exactly how I felt... I could not breathe, I felt so trapped and so very very alone ( even though I had lots of support from friends and family) I could not eat, I could not sleep, I could not stop the tears, I could not even talk to people, I was sick to my stomach...vomiting in the bathroom hoping no one would notice...Its a year and a half later and when I think of that time...I can still feel that severe heartache... the pain was so heart literally ached

This has left our family and friends not only grieving the unexpected death but also confused and lost...

Overwhelming guilt about why didn’t I see the signs, why didn’t I help him when he said life is tough, why wasn’t I there to support him... become daily, haunting thoughts. Yes, I knew he was struggling, he was going through a divorce, and a lot of friends rejected him... yes, he was a proud and stubborn person, and he made mistakes along the way, but he had the biggest and dearest heart, he would always find a way to help anyone in need... and he would do so with a smile on his face.

I'm not even going to try and pretend that after all this time, there are no more quilty feelings, but with time and therapy, I’ve come to realize... The voice of depression must’ve been so loud...telling him all these lies ... that he was not worthy and deserving of a life filled with love, joy, peace and happiness.

In the past few months, I’ve read a lot on mental state and suicidal behaviour. In order to attempt suicide, a person has to be in the neurological state where they can override their own survival instincts. Another term used is cognitive constriction, it is often described as a feeling of tunnel vision. People in this state can’t see beyond their circumstances and don’t believe their pain will ever end.

The following statistics broke my heart... The WHO estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per every 100 000, or one death every 40 seconds. 1 in 4 South Africans struggle with mental health problems, and there are an average of 23 suicides and 230 attempts per day... (while writing this article, 2 people in our community died from suicIde )

How is that possible... I'm asking myself this over and over... why are there so many people feeling so alone... are suicidal people terrified to get help because of the bad stigma it has ...that was when I decided that I can’t fight this in the 4 walls of my mind, I need to start speaking about this... maybe if these people that struggle with mental illness knew that all of us have struggles in life and battle with things and it’s ok to say, I’m not coping, I’m drowning, maybe then they will feel safe to ask for help... it is our responsibility to show these people that it’s ok to ‘not cope’ with life and help them

To do that, we first need to get educated, we need to put more awareness on this subject, we need to know the warnings signs and we need to know where someone that needs help, can actually find qualified help.

I came across an organization called SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group), they’ve just celebrated their 20th anniversary and is the largest mental health organization in the country. They are actively helping those that struggle with depression, bipolar trauma, panic and anxiety, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. They provide support through 16 helplines (which receive over 400 calls a day) answered by 100 volunteer counsellors, hundreds of school programs, distribution of speaking books, and over 250 support groups and counselling entries. Pls, visit their SADAG website,, to educate yourself on suicide prevention and the warnings signs.

Suicide warning signs can be subtle or obvious, and include things like:
- talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
- looking for a way to kill oneself, such as buying a gun or research online
- Expressing hopelessness or sharing a lack of reason to live
- talking about being in pain or feeling trapped
- worrying about being a burden to others
- indulgence in alcohol or drugs
- acting anxious or distressed, behaving recklessly
- sleeping too much or too little
- isolating or withdrawing oneself
- showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- extreme mood swings

Here are some nb numbers to put on your phone and to share with anyone who is in need of help:

SADAG mental health line
24hr helpline: 0800 456 789
For suicidal Emergencies: 0800 567 567
To contact a counsellor between 8am and 8pm Monday to Sunday:
call : 011 234 4837 / Fax: 011 234 8182

ADHD helpline: 0800 554433

Development Substance Abuse Line 24 hr helpline: 0800 12 13 14 / SMS: 32312

Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit 24 hour: 0861435 787

Cipla WhatsApp Chat Line: 076 882 2775

Please don’t forget that you also have the power to help these people, latest stats show that 81 % of people who attempt suicide tell someone what they are going to do and when they are going to do it...therefore I’m asking you all again, let’s be real and brave and honest and take off those masks, let’s show them kindness and compassion... maybe then people battling with suicide will see that everyone has his/her own battles, and it is ok to ask for help...I know to show your vulnerability is terrifying, I’m terrified now, as I write this article because honesty makes all of us vulnerable, but this is the only way that we are going to help people that feel that they are so alone in this world...

Every day since that horrible evening in March of last year, I’ve found myself wondering... if I had 5 more minutes with my brother before he passed away what would I have said to him... I wish I could just show him one more time how much he is loved...not only by me, and my mom and dad and by his son, and by his family and close friends.... but mostly by God... scripture tell us that you are so LOVED ( John 3:16), that you are BEAUTIFUL (Psalm 139:13-14) and BLESSED (Ephesians 1:3), you are FORGIVEN (Ephesians 1:7) and VICTORIOUS (Romans 8:37) you are CHOSEN (Ephesians 1:4) and so GIFTED ( James 1:17), you are VALUABLE (Job 33:4) and made for a PURPOSE (Jeremiah 29:11) you are HIS CHILD(1 John 3:1), HIS MASTERPIECE (Ephesians 2:10). I pray this over each and everyone reading this, may you never doubt your worth.

And My prayer for anyone that has lost a loved one to suicide or anyone that is that within time, may you learn to live alongside your grief... because we are still here and we can still make a difference and we can still live an extraordinarily live with meaning. Grieving will change you, and yes, it will challenge you, but let the life you are leading rather be a living dedication to the person you loved so so very much.

Therefore I’m asking you all again, get educated, let’s get real and be brave... let’s be kind and show compassion and help people, let's show them how much they are valued and loved... IF you see someone struggling, be there for them, even if it requires you to be honest and vulnerable about your own struggles in life... we can not let fear or shame stop us anymore.

If you are in a position to support this worthy cause, SADAG, you can use this link. Any and all support you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

In memory of my beloved brother...


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Donations to date

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Fundraising target

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The South African Depression and Anxiety Group

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group Logo

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group is a Mental Health NGO offering free telephonic counselling for Mental Health isuues. SADAG is also invoved in other projects including teen suicide prevention and mental health education and awareness.