Category Archives: Suicide
Perinatal depression and anxiety are serious mental health problems and are among the leading causes of maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide!
Pregnant women are at higher risk for suicidal ideation and behaviours compared to the general population.
Suicide has been identified as one of the major contributors to the global mortality burden and there is a growing concern over the increase in suicidal ideation and behaviour among pregnant women.
Studies in low- and middle-income countries put the rate of maternal death due to suicide at somewhere between 0.65% and 3.55%. In such cases, risk factors include poverty, lack of support, lack of trust in health systems and coexisting mental illnesses.
Suicidal thoughts experienced during pregnancy can continue beyond the initial postpartum period, affecting the well-being of both mother and child.
More about pregnancy and suicidal ideation in our infographic
In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), competing health priorities, civil conflict, and a lack of political will mean that expenditure on mental health is a fraction of that needed to meet the mental health care needs of the population.
For mothers, this treatment gap is most notable in regions where health agendas focus on maternal mortality indicators.
Who is at risk of perinatal mental health disorder?
Common mental disorders during pregnancy and in the first year after birth are associated with certain risk factors. These include poverty, migration, extreme stress, exposure to violence (domestic, sexual and gender-based), previous history of mental disorders, alcohol and other drug use as well as low social support.
In South Africa, there is a very high prevalence of adolescent pregnancies with 39% of 15- to 19-year old girls being pregnant at least once. When adolescent mothers suffer from depression, the likelihood of a subsequent teenage pregnancy nearly doubles.
How to address maternal mental illness among economically disadvantaged parents?
Integration of services!
Mothers in many settings are using maternal and child health services as well as social services. Thus, detection and access will increase if maternal health screening and services are integrated into these public care platforms.
How to implement a maternal mental health intervention in low-resource settings?
We are sharing our lessons learned in this learning brief.
We have also developed a Service Development Guidelines which demonstrates how to develop a mental health intervention at your facility, even with limited resources.
Find more free & open access resources for professionals on our website
And what about dads?
Postnatal depression can affect dads too. Find out about common concerns for new dads and discover helpful tips on how they can become more involved. We compiled a leaflet with information that could help you be better prepared for what is happening. The leaflets are available in
Suicide prevention is a serious public health priority, globally and in South Africa (SA). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that annually 800 000 people die by suicide, with the number expected to rise to 1.53 million by 2020. For every completed suicide there are approximately 20 non-fatal suicide attempts. As many as 75% of suicides occur in low and middle income countries.
In SA suicide accounts for 9.6% of all unnatural deaths and there is approximately one completed suicide every hour. Data from the National Injury and Mortality Surveillance System suggests that 80% of suicides in SA are male and the number of suicide deaths is highest among individuals of 15 to 29 years of age.
Read the full blog by Dr Jason Bantjes on our DignityInMind campaign site.
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day we’d like to focus on suicidal thoughts during the perinatal period
Mothers’ emotional needs can go undetected during the perinatal period where there is much attention on the baby and women often face multiple difficulties. Studies have shown that women at risk for suicide may be easier identified, by increasing screening of expectant and new mothers for major depression and conflicts with intimate partners. Thus care providers and family may be able to detect symptoms and signs of suicidal thoughts and possibly prevent further distress or the development of suicidal behaviour.
Symptoms and warning signs include
– Talk of suicide or dying “If I died, would you miss me?” or “It would be better if I were not here or dead.”
– Depressive symptoms, including feelings of guilt, hopelessness or no sense of the future.
– Feeling isolated or wanting to be alone “No one understands me”.
– Obsessive thinking – thinking ‘too much’, especially about harming oneself or dying
– Giving things away (clothes, expensive gifts), “When I am gone, I want you to have this.”
Read this and other Issue Briefs on our website
#WSPD16 will be commemorated on 10 September
Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #WSPD16
Suicidal ideation during the perinatal period
Mothers’ emotional needs can go undetected during the perinatal period where there is much attention on the baby. We suggest care providers routinely ask questions about suicidality during mental health or physical health screening.
Our recently produced Issue Brief deals with some of the risk factors and unearths some of the myths surrounding suicide during pregnancy.
Read this and other Issue Briefs on our website
Ever wondered what is considered a suicidal thought, ideation, or gesture? Than read this Explanation of Suicidal Thinking In Plain Mama English by Postpartum Progress