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Suicide Prevention in South Africa 

Suicide Prevention in South Africa
Suicide Prevention in South Africa

Stephanie Burrows

and Lourens Schlebusch

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date: 05 July 2022

Suicidal behaviour is an increasingly significant public health concern on the African continent. Although there is an obvious, urgent need for comprehensive national suicide prevention programmes, only a handful of local or regionalized efforts exist and to the best of our knowledge there are no national programmes. In South Africa, a framework for a national suicide prevention programme has been proposed (Schlebusch 2005; Burrows and Schlebusch 2008), and a statement of intent to implement such plans has been issued by government representatives and South African suicidologists (Burrows 2005).

In some ways, South Africa has set the lead in contemporary suicide research in Africa (Kinyanda and Kigozi 2005; Schlebusch 2005). For example, the twenty-third World Congress of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) was held for the first time on the African continent and hosted in Durban (a major harbour city on the east coast of South Africa) in 2005. South Africa has unique features compared to many other countries on the continent in that it is fairly prosperous with many well-established universities, research institutes and research infrastructures. It is one of the few countries in the African region to regularly monitor and update data on suicidal behaviour (Matzopoulos 2005; Schlebusch 2005) and researchers have developed a framework for the management (Schlebusch 2005) and prevention of suicidal behaviour (Burrows and Schlebusch 2008).

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