Suicide Prevention In SA

Worried about suicidal messages online? Click here

“I can’t go on like this any more. The light at the end of the tunnel has faded out forever for me. There’s simply no more hope. Good night and goodbye . . .”Hair-raising words. Does my Facebook friend intend to commit suicide? What do I do now?

“There are 23 completed suicides every single day in South Africa, and a further 460 attempted suicides every 24 hours,” says Cassey Chambers, of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag).

This non-profit organisation has been chosen by Facebook to manage its new choice option in South Africa. Facebook links 1,6 million people and is the place where online conversations often mirror what people are thinking and talking about away from social media.

It’s disturbing when people, especially on Facebook, insinuate that they want to commit suicide.

Research by Facebook shows that about a third of messages shared on this website include negative feelings. And these posts receive longer and more sympathetic comments than other messages.


“People really want to help friends in distress but often don’t know what to say, what to do or how to help their friends,” says Vanessa Callison-Burch, a spokesperson for Facebook.

The person reporting a suicide note is given a menu of options, including the ability to send a Facebook message directly to the friend in distress or to a mutual friend to coordinate help.

Facebook also suggests messages to send that are usually suggested by people such as psychologists in such circumstances. You receive contact details for places your friend can approach for help.

This is where Sadag’s role becomes important. With more than 20 years’ experience as an organisation providing help in the mental health field, Sadag has built up a database of the best local experts in the field of suicide prevention.

“Besides encouraging the person in distress to connect with Sadag, we also provide them with self-help tips and advice to work through negative feelings”, says Sadag’s Cassey Chambers.

Sadag’s Suicide Crisis Line’s number is 0800-567-567, or  SMS 31393


3 responses to “Suicide Prevention In SA

  1. I was just commenting with my son yesterday how disturbing it was that now that I am 14 or so as far as my Facebook is concerned (I lied about my age so that the ads they showed me were less horrific), Facebook is recommending pages like “Teens who want to commit suicide” and stuff like that. Because I have recently been telling the internet I am trilingual, they are suggesting even ones in Spanish. And I wondered, if I were a 14-year-old, how would I feel about that? I am an adult dealing with depression and anxiety, what if I really were 14? My son said FB just automatically suggests those pages because they are popular. Really? I am not sure I like where it’s all going :/. I wondered whether it suggesting them to me because perhaps people on my friends’ list searched about suicide (my son himself, he lost a classmate to suicide just a couple of years back) or talked about it in their messaging app. Just like if I talk with my friends about Berlin in my Facebook messaging suddenly ads pop up relating to Berlin. It is all a little… much.


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