Depression can kill. Let’s unite to fight it

Depression - the leading cause of suicide - is real and loneliness, worry and anxiety as a result of Covid-19 and the resultant initial lockdowns have all exacerbated depression in those already battling the sometimes debilitating condition.
Depression - the leading cause of suicide - is real and loneliness, worry and anxiety as a result of Covid-19 and the resultant initial lockdowns have all exacerbated depression in those already battling the sometimes debilitating condition.
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Depression. Suicide. Two words that, for some reason, are taboo in parts of society. Some people even doubt whether depression actually exists.

Yet, we know depression — the leading cause of suicide — is real.

And loneliness, worry and anxiety resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown can worsen depression in those already battling the sometimes debilitating condition.

In some instances, the pandemic and the measures taken to contain it may be triggering new cases.

Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu raised the red flag about the recent increase in the number of suicides in Nelson Mandela Bay last week.

In the past three months, she said, police had opened more than 35 inquest cases relating to suicides.

According to Naidu, most suicides involved people between the ages of  20 and 39.

“In cases where persons were over the age of 60, it was established that most of them lived alone,” Naidu said.

“People don’t commit suicide because they want to die, they simply see no other solution for their problems — pain, rejection, hurt, loss, loneliness or victimisation.”

Wellness coach and educator Janine Shamos, who works closely with the SA Depression and Anxiety Group, said though she was loath to attribute any suicide to the pandemic alone, it — and the lockdown — were high on the list of potential triggers that led people to opt for suicide.

She said the depression group and other helplines had registered an increase in calls from people seeking help with mental health disorders.

“Lockdown specifically, is tough,” she said.

“But for people who either suffer an existing psychiatric problem, have experienced a trauma, and/or live alone, these levels of uncertainty and stress are so much higher.”

So where does that leave us?

It is important for people to realise they are not suffering alone.

Reach out for help. Sometimes all it takes is one person to make a difference between you making the decision to live and fight the darkness within or end your life.

The rest of us should know we can be that difference simply by looking out for warning signs in friends, relatives and associates.

These can include someone talking about death or suicide, withdrawing from friends or family, expressing feelings of isolation, exhibiting drastic change in behaviour, sleeping too little — or too much — and upping their consumption of alcohol or drugs.

Remember, suicide does not discriminate — it is prevalent across all races, genders and socioeconomic groups.

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