World Suicide Prevention Day was marked on 10 September by concerns about growing rates of suicide and the lack of effective suicide prevention strategies not only in South Africa but in many countries around the globe.
In Cape Town, an event at the Silo District in the Waterfront focused on encouraging men to talk more in the belief that “talking saves lives”. According to the World Health Organization rates of suicide have been markedly increasing, especially among men. Symbolically, the speakers sat in barber’s chairs – an allusion to the space created in barber shops where, according to Garron Gsell of the Men’s Foundation, men “feel free to talk, especially when times gets tough in the confidence that they will be heard “.
Speaking at the event were Daryl Brown, who survived a suicide attempt; Christine Wessels, who lost her partner to suicide and Jonathan Manuel, a social worker from Cape Mental Health..
Darryl Brown told how “overwhelmed by depression that had haunted him since childhood, he decided to end his life in 2013”. He threw himself in front of a train but survived and had to have both his legs amputated.
Christine Wessels, who lost her boyfriend to suicide 9 years ago, spoke about the lasting impact of suicide on those left behind: “I don’t go a day without missing him and wondering if things could have been different”.
Jonathan Manuel said that “men were less likely to speak about their mental health or illnesses due to stigma .
According to Garron Gsell : “Too many men try to deal with challenges on their own and suffer in silence. We’re hoping to show men that talking saves lives”. (Article by Lisa Isaacs: Cape Times, 11 September 2018).