JOHANNESBURG – With Thursday marking World Suicide Prevention Day, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) said that the volume of calls to its helpline had doubled amid the coronavirus pandemic with an average of 1,400 people reaching out every day.
The NGO said that since January it had been inundated with calls, messages and online communication from desperate people seeking help and advice.
Operations director at Sadag, Cassey Chambers, said that the organisation’s volunteers were fielding calls from people in desperate need of help.
Many people were battling to cope, and some had considered ending their lives.
Chambers said they also received calls from very young people.
“We have people who call us who are actively trying to end their lives. Overdosing on tablets trying to end their lives, and our counsellors come in and offer crisis intervention in that moment of need where we are getting ambulances, emergency services, [and] hospital beds,” she said.
Medical professionals were also feeling the impact of anxiety and depression in the middle of the global health crisis and were also reaching out.
“We have received over 600 calls from various health workers reaching out for help, including doctors,” Chambers said.
Chambers said it was still difficult for many people to ask for help due to the stigma around mental illness.
Sadag said that lockdown regulations had forced people into isolation and removed their usual support networks, which often resulted in overwhelming loneliness.
If this article has raised issues for you or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567.