Depression & Suicide Help

Emergency Contacts
SOUTH AFRICA crisis contact numbers

This page is specifically tailored to a South African audience, in terms of crisis contact details. Should you require assistance or immediate help outside of South Africa, please contact your local or country Help Line or Support Centre, see listings at the links below.

Suicide Hotlines For All Countries via

International Listings for Suicide and Crisis Hotlines via Together We Are Strong

If you are needing a referral to a psychologist, psychiatrist or support group, please call The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) on 011 234 4837 or 0800 20 50 26 and speak to a trained counselor who can assist you further. Or alternatively email Zane on Their Substance Abuseline 0800 12 13 14 is available 24hrs.

As of 2011, an estimated one million people per year die by suicide or “a death every 40 seconds or about 3,000 every day. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are twenty people who have a failed suicide attempt for every one that is successful, at a rate approximately one every three seconds. Suicide is the “most common cause of death for people aged 15 – 24.” More people die from suicide than from murder and war; it is the 13th leading cause of death worldwide. According to WHO, suicide accounts for nearly half of all violent deaths in the world.

Key facts

  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
  • More women are affected by depression than men.
  • At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
  • There are effective treatments for depression.

WHO Fact Sheet on Depression (Updated February 2017)

Signs To Look Out For

  • Poor concentration
  • Easily distracted
  • Poor memory/forgetfulness
  • Indecisiveness
  • Slower thinking speed
  • Problem solving difficulties
  • Struggling to find the right words to express your thoughts
  • Negative or distorted thinking patterns

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group @SADAG runs South Africa’s only toll-free suicide crisis line 0800 567 567 – open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm. SADAG is Africa’s largest mental health support and advocacy group.

SADAG Medical Aid Survey

Do You Have A Medical Aid? Have You Ever Experienced A Mental Health Issue? SADAG Invites You To Complete Their Medical Aid Survey,

Your responses will help them to discuss and advocate for better Mental Healthcare Support from Medical Aid/Schemes. Please note that by taking part in this survey, you consent to the use of your responses for this purpose. SADAG does not need your name at all, you can be completely anonymous.
Complete The Survey Now (The survey closes at the end of August 2017)
NOTE: Please take this quick survey ONLY if you are a Medical Aid member AND have claimed from your medical aid benefits for MENTAL HEALTHCARE in the last 12 months.

[bctt tweet=”WHAT TO DO IF A FAMILY MEMBER HAS AN ANXIETY DISORDER” “” username=”MelanieMinnaar”]

  • Do not make assumptions about what the affected person needs; ask them.
  • Be predictable; do not surprise them.
  • Let the person with the disorder set the pace for recovery.
  • Find something positive in every experience. If the affected person is only able to go partway to a particular goal, such as a movie theatre or party, consider that an achievement rather than a failure.
  • Do not enable avoidance: negotiate with the person with panic disorder to take one step forward when he or she wants to avoid something.
  • Do not sacrifice your own life and build resentments.
  • Do not panic when the person with the disorder panics.
  • Remember that it is all right to be anxious yourself; it is natural for you to be concerned and even worried about the person with panic disorder.
  • Be patient and accepting, but do not settle for the affected person being permanently disabled.
  • Say: “You can do it no matter how you feel. I am proud of you. Tell me what you need now. Breathe slow and low. Stay in the present. It is not the place that is bothering you, it is the thought. I know that what you are feeling is painful, but it is not dangerous. You are courageous.”
  • Do not say: “Relax. Calm down. Do not be anxious. Let me see if you can do this (i.e. setting up a test for the affected person). You can fight this. What should we do next? Do not be ridiculous. You have to stay. Do not be a coward.”

[bctt tweet=”WHAT TO SAY TO SOMEONE WHO IS DEPRESSED” “” username=”MelanieMinnaar”]

“I’m all alone”
Don’t say: “No you’re not! I’m sitting here with you right now. Doesn’t my caring about you mean anything?”
Do say: “I know that you’re feeling alone right now. Is there anything I can do to help? I’m just glad to be with you – together we’ll get through this lonely feeling.”

“Why bother? Life isn’t worth living. There’s no point in going on”
Don’t say: “How can you think that? You have a great job and people who love you. You have everything to live for”
Do say: “I know it feels that way to you right now, but I want you to know that you matter to me and you matter to others who love you. We’ll get through this hopeless feeling together”

“I’m dragging everybody else down with me”
Don’t say: “No you’re not! You see, I’m fine! I had a good day today. And besides I’m doing everything in the world to help you.”
Do say: “I know it feels that way to you right now, and yes, at times it is difficult for both of us – but remember we’ll get through this hopeless feeling together”

“What would it be like if I wasn’t here anymore?”
Don’t say: “Don’t be silly – what’s wrong with you?”
Do say: “I would miss you terribly as you’re very important to me. I want to grow old knowing you’re around. We’ll get through this together”

“I’m expendable.”
Don’t say: “If you felt better about yourself, you wouldn’t say stupid things like that.”
Do say: “I know you’re feeling worthless right now, but we’ll get through this.”

“Nothing I do is any good. I’ll never amount to anything”
Don’t say: “What are you saying? You’re a highly respected (engineer), you’re a good (father). You’re blowing everything out of proportion.”
Do say: “I know it’s upsetting when things don’t work out the way you want them to – it’s upsetting for me to! Failure feelings are really painful, but we’ll get through this together”

“How long am I going to feel this way? It’s as if I’ll never get better”
Don’t say: “Come on. Nothing lasts forever – you know better than that”
Do say: “I know it’s scary to be in so much pain. Feelings come and go. We’ll get through this together”

If you need any further information for you or a loved one, please call SADAG on 011 262 6396 or 0800 567 567 or sms 31393, we are open 7 days a week from 8am – 8pm. You can also go to our website for more information

[bctt tweet=”HELPING A DEPRESSED FRIEND OR LOVED ONE” “” username=”MelanieMinnaar”]

  • HELP THE PERSON TO FIND OUT WHAT THEIR MENTAL ILLNESS IS AND GET TREATMENT: Go with your loved one to clinic, doctor or counsellor to find out what is wrong.
  • SUPPORT GROUPS: Find out if there are any support groups in your area. Sharing fears, worries and feelings with other people who are in the same situation helps.
  • LEARN ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH ILLNESS: Depression is a disease. Learn about the illness. The more you know, the more you can help your loved one.
  • CARE AND SUPPORT YOU LOVED ONE: Being with family and friends is very important for the person to get better. Always tell the person that you care and love them. Look at the good things in loved ones.
  • LET THE PERSON BE PART OF YOUR LIFE AND EVENTS: Invite your loved one to come with you and the rest of the family for walks, church and other activities you would normally do. Encourage your loved one to join in fun activities – both new events and things that the person enjoyed before they got depression.
  • DON’T FORCE THE DEPRESSED PERSON TO CHEER UP: Depressed people have REAL feelings. The depressed person can’t just feel better. They are not weak or lazy.
  • LISTEN! Listen to what your loved one says. Most depressed people want someone to listen to them. DO NOT leave the person out of family discussions because you think that it would be less stressful for them if they are not involved. Treat the person as normally as possible. Ask the person what they hope, fear, feel and need.
  • SUPPORT: Support is very important – tell the person that asking for help is a sign of strength. Remind your loved one that he can always get treatment for his illness. Remind the depressed person that they WILL recover in time.
  • DON’T’ TREAT YOUR LOVED ONE LIKE A CHILD: Remember that the depressed person is not feeling their best and try to help out where you can. Don’t try to do everything for the depressed person – it is good for the person to do some things for themselves.
  • SUICIDE: If your loved one or friend talks about having thoughts of suicide, take it seriously and ask for help straight away.

If you need any further information for you or a loved one, please call SADAG on 011 262 6396 or 0800 567 567 or sms 31393, we are open 7 days a week from 8am – 8pm. You can also go to their website for more information SADAG Website



  1. Educate employees on depression and especially how cognitive symptoms can affect work performance.
  2. Raise awareness of any existing employee assistance programmes AND emphasise that they can help with mental health problems, like depression, too.
  3. Promote a culture of acceptance around depression and other psychiatric disorders – they are no different to diabetes or asthma.
  4. If an employee shares their struggle with depression, refer them to a mental healthcare professional and reassure them the illness can be treated.
  5. Explore creative ways to support an employee’s recovery, like flexible/adjusted working hours or working from home for a while.


To find out more about the results of the new workplace depression study, where to find professional help for workplace or employee depression (and the associated cognitive symptoms) or to book a wellness day or corporate talk for your employees, contact Naazia Ismail at SADAG on 011 234 4837.










Melanie Minnaar (a Survivor)




5 Replies to “Depression & Suicide Help”

  1. Hi Mel an followers, I am a sufferer of depression and anxiety, which not many people know due to my “bubbly” personality and sense of humour. I have had too many dark days to recall and it truly is a disease which we fight off daily. I love the article it was an excellent read. I do wish Mental Health was more spoken about in this Country in order for others too understand it. It scares many people, including family members of a sufferer and most just pretend it doesn’t exist, it’s still quite a taboo subject within the family circle. Well mine anyway.

    The disease itself has so many aspects to it, it’s never quite that simple to explain to anyone how you’re feeling or whether the feeling of gloom is your gut telling you something or anxiety messing with your head.

    I have found through basic medications and a simple lifestyle with nature to be very soothing to my soul, I guess we all need to find that “escape” to calm our wild thoughts and agitated feelings. Fighting for animal rights has been my channel to vent my frustrations and given my life a sense of purpose. Through “Mother”, Melanie and her posts I have taken on a little more this year in the sense of giving and am stretching out my hands to those who touch my heart. A young lady with a brain problem, such a warrior, she is just one that I am lending me support and love too, but in the interim have found her courage and faith has had a much greater influence on my life.

    And that’s how I exist, I give no thought to my disease and when I feel down and anxious, I address it, I love myself through it, I sleep, I eat and I allow my mind to heal. I no longer fight it or stress over it as I know it WILL pass. I give myself time. And when it’s over….I continue ,,,,

    Never lose HOPE, for from HOPE all positive feelings and affirmations are born.

    Love always B xxx (Survivor)

  2. Thanks for your feedback Kirk. Appreciate it. Depression is not understood enough, especially by people who don’t suffer with it in a chronic way. “Pull yourself together” or “you’ll get over it” don’t help the sufferer at all.

  3. Excellent article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I have found, through personal experience, that there is still such a negative perception of people suffering with depression. You are viewed as weak and unable to cope. Depression is none of these things. Depression does not mean that you cannot cope with life, it means you struggle to deal with what life has thrown at you. We all need to learn so much about this disease (yes, it is a disease).

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