Suicide And Depression In Men

Suicide And Depression In Men


Jabulani “Jabba” Tsambo (Motswako rapper known as Hip Hop Pantsula or HHP).

Christopher Khubeka (Gunman in the hit TV show Yizo Yizo).

Robin Williams (multi-award winning comedian and actor).

Roy Raymond (founder of Victoria’s Secret lingerie retail store).

George Reeves (the original Superman from the TV series, The Adventures of Superman).

Chris Lighty (veteran music manager best known for representing international artists like 50 Cent, Diddy and Mariah Carey).


What these men have in common is that they all allegedly committed suicide. Contrary to popular socially constructed beliefs, depression and suicide can no longer be classified as a “woman’s disease” or something that only affects particular races, religions and cultures.


Suicide and depression in men is a reality. It is an issue for both celebrities and ordinary laymen. Our fellow countrymen are at risk. Make no mistake, this is not an isolated South African issue, but one that is affecting the world at large.


Male suicide from a global perspective


Earlier in 2018, GQ Magazine published an article on the #project84 campaign, organised by the mental health charity Calm. The campaign placed 84 sculptures on ITV buildings across London. They were aimed at representing the 84 British men who commit suicide every week.


The article also stated that three-quarters of all suicides are male and indicated how men in Britain, mainly before the age of 50, were continuously killing themselves. When one considers the international perspective, it is alleged that about 800,000 people commit suicide every year (these stats are for both male and female).


The link between suicide and depression within the South African context


According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide is the second leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 29. Furthermore, 79% of global suicide occurs in low and middle-income countries. Just in case you’re wondering where South Africa fits in, South Africa records the sixth highest rate of suicide in Africa.


Wouter Lombard from Cipla, a pharmaceutical company, is quoted in an IOL news report as saying that approximately 11,6 of every 100,000 people in South Africa commit suicide. He further asserts that the majority of suicides and suicide attempts happen among individuals who suffer from depression.



Know the risk factors


Mental health, particularly among men, usually just rises to the fore during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month (September), but is something that should rightfully continue throughout the year. For starters, you should know the risk factors for men developing depression. They include, but are not limited to:


  • A significant change in living arrangements (such as long-distance issues, separation or divorce)
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Employment glitches
  • Financial challenges
  • Physical health problems
  • Relationship complications
  • Social isolation
  • Stagnant career growth



Signs and symptoms


The signs and symptoms of depression in men can differ from those in women. This is particularly so because of brain chemistry, socially negotiated gender roles, hormones, life experiences and cultural socialisation. Men often use different coping skills than women. Here are the symptoms that you should watch out for.


  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Complete lack of self-esteem
  • Controlling, violent or abusive
  • Emptiness (often described as “a void”)
  • Escapist behaviour, such as spending a lot of time at work, the tavern or playing sports
  • Extreme hopelessness
  • Feeling very tired
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Inappropriate anger
  • Irrational behaviour
  • No longer deriving joy from activities once enjoyed
  • Often irritable
  • Risky behaviour such as reckless driving
  • Sadness


These symptoms, signs and behaviour are not exclusively limited to mental illnesses. You need to approach qualified mental health professionals or medical practitioners for an accurate diagnosis and treatment that is best suited to your condition.


As a start, reach out to someone you trust. Then take the next step. Contact U-care for psychological counselling or Lifeline for 24-hour counselling by calling +27[0]11 422 4242 or 0861 322 322. You can also email Your life is of the highest importance.


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