September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Lifeline Durban director, Pravisha Dhanapalan said it is important to show someone who may be vulnerable to suicide, some care.

“The act of showing care and concern to someone who may be vulnerable to suicide can be a game-changer. Asking them whether they are OK, listening to what they have to say in a non-judgmental way, and letting them know you care, can all have a significant impact. Isolation increases the risk of suicide and conversely, having strong social connections is protective against it, so being there for someone who has become disconnected can be life-saving.”

Dhanapalan said at Lifeline they deal with people with different situations, however, their crisis line calls are mainly from teens and adults who are lonely and socially isolated. “Teens have forgotten how to have real conversations with real people. Studies have shown that spending time on the internet and cellphone, SMS or chat services, reduces social involvement, increase social isolation and increases loneliness and depression.”

She said the issues with teenagers is that they are impatient, overloaded with media and entertainment, techno savvy and street smart and these contributes to the high rates
of teens committing suicide. “The main attributes to suicide are; rape, divorce, loneliness, depression, unemployment, bullying and peer pressure,” she added.

Dhanapalan said at Lifeline they have a 24/7 crisis line, onsite trauma counseling services, face-to-face trauma debriefing and support groups.She advised friends, families and
the community never to attempt to argue or speak someone out of suicide.

“Rather let the person know that you care and understand that they are not alone, that suicidal feelings are temporary, that depression can be treated and that problems can
be solved. You should also avoid the temptation to say, ‘You have so much to live for’ or ‘Suicide will hurt your family.

“In an acute crisis; take the person to an emergency room or walk-in clinic – never leave the person alone until help is available; remove drugs, razors, scissors or firearms that could be used in a suicide attempt away from the potentially suicidal person. If you have no options, call your local emergency services,” emphasised Dhanapalan.

Signs of suicide are:
• Talking about suicide
• Depression
• Preparing for death – giving things away, saying goodbye
• Drastic changes in personality
• Risk-taking behaviour – drinking and driving

Dhanapalan said suicide can be prevented, however some suicides may occur without any outward warning. “The most effective way to suicide is to learn to recognise the signs of someone at risk, take these signs seriously and know how to respond to them. Know the danger signs.”

Lifeline offices are on 8 Adrain Road and Annex, 20 Percy Osborne Road, Stamford Hill. For more information or for help, contact them on 031 312 2323. For face-to-face counselling, call 031 303 1344 for bookings between 8am to 4pm.

Suicide facts
• Over 800 000 people per year commit suicide.
• Suicide is the leading cause
of death to men under 50.
• Suicide is the 10th biggest cause of death worldwide.
• Two of the leading factors
that contribute to suicide is isolation and feeling like a
burden.

Local suicide hotlines
Durban Lifeline: 031 303 1344
Suicide Crisis line: 0800 12 13 14
SADAG support groups: 0800 21 22 23 or SMS 31393
FAMSA Durban: 031 202 8987