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By Citizen Reporter


Gauteng govt not doing enough to prevent spike in suicides, says DA

A loss of income owed to the Covid-19 pandemic was revealed to be among the main contributing factors to suicide.

Lockdowns as a result of Covid-19 between 2020 and 2021 have contributed to a marked increase in suicides. 

According to DA Gauteng shadow MEC for social development Refiloe Nt’sekhe, the number of people who have taken their own lives in the province increased 90%, from 695 during the 2019/20 financial year, to 1,325 deaths from April 2020 to present.

Nt’sekhe said a reply to written questions to community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko revealed that the main factors contributing to suicides included depression, financial difficulties, family member deaths and domestic violence, but also a loss of income owed to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

She expressed concern that the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) did not have any programmes in place to deal specifically with the increase in suicides. 

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MEC for social development Morakane Mosupyoe told Nt’sekhe in a written reply that the department only had social workers to assist, but that they were tasked with providing a broad scope of emotion, behavioural, educational and familial interventions. 

The provision of therapeutic interventions by social workers involve individual therapy and counselling, as well as referrals for specialised services and support. 

Crisis interventions and rapid responses are used when learner deaths are involved, as well as child protection, bereavement, violence, depression and attempted suicides play a role. 

But Nt’sekhe said these services “are the bare minimum that any social development department should provide”, and that there was still an “urgent need” for programmes to be created that focus on suicide and mental illness. 

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“The stigma of these still exist in society and far too many people are suffering in silence and isolation.” 

She suggested the Gauteng DSD create a visible website that provides resources to those suffering from any form of mental illness, and the nearest services available to them. 

“When one is suffering through depression, it takes a profound amount of effort to try pull themselves out, and therefore it should not require so much effort to access the help they deserve.

“Depression is the silent pandemic that has been ignored for far too long. 

“If we are wanting to be a more caring and sympathetic society, we need to acknowledge and confront this pandemic head on.”

If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, anxiety or mental anguish, contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), on 0800 567 567.

Sadag’s 24hr Helpline is 0800 456 789.

Compiled by Nica Richards

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Coronavirus (Covid-19) depression suicide