Worrying results from a new report reveal that suicide, specifically among young adult males, is steadily increasing in the Western Cape.

The Western Cape Burden of Disease Reduction report looks at the state of health and wellness in the province, comparing data from 2009 to 2016 to see how the Western Cape Burden of Disease Reduction project that was initiated in 2008 progressed. In the report, they refer to five main disease components: infectious diseases, mental health conditions, injuries, cardiovascular and childhood diseases.

According to the report, 11% of injury deaths in the province, which makes up 1.5% of all deaths, are caused by suicide.

“Suicide may be a proxy for mental illness burden, since 90% of people who commit suicide have a psychiatric disorder at the time of their death, although suicide figures in isolation are a gross underestimation of underlying mental disorders,” reads the report. “From 2010 to 2016 the proportion of injury deaths due to suicide was unchanged at 11% (1.5% of all deaths) and the suicide age-standardised mortality rate was 3 times higher in males vs. females across all years (17 vs 5/100,000) with age-specific suicide mortality being highest in men 20-39 years.”

While mental illness is challenging to quantify, the report states that it is also much more prevalent in the Western Cape compared to other provinces. “The Western Cape had the highest 12-month and lifetime prevalence of mental illness in SA (39%). Prevalence of anxiety disorders was 19%, mood disorders 14% and substance use disorders 21%.”

To combat this, a number of policies have been put in place, including the Mental Health Policy Working Group to develop a Mental Health Policy Framework for the province and the Integrated Counselling Strategy to address the shortage of psychologist resources for current counselling needs.

People struggling with suicidal thoughts are encouraged to contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) on 011 234 4837. For a suicidal Emergency contact them on 0800 567 567 or the 24hr Helpline on 0800 456 789

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