Men's health crisis revealed through shocking suicide stats

File picture: Pexels

File picture: Pexels

Published Nov 20, 2023


The City of Cape Town has issued a compelling call for men to overcome barriers and fully utilise available health services.

This comes as alarming statistics reveal a stark underutilisation of healthcare services by men and a concerning suicide rate in South Africa.

The calls is made as International Men's Day was observed worldwide on Sunday, with the the theme for International Men's Day 2023, 'Zero Male Suicide,' shines a spotlight on the multifaceted challenges men face, encompassing physical health, mental wellness, and abuse.

Responding to the urgent need for mental health services, the City of Cape Town deployed three clinical psychologists across 15 facilities, strategically located in areas such as Albow Gardens, Bloekombos, Delft South, and others.

In the past 12 months, men constituted just under a third of clients accessing City Health services, revealing a significant gap in healthcare utilisation.

The overall health figures are equally concerning, with men representing only 27% of the headcount at primary healthcare facilities, 33% of patients receiving treatment for diabetes, and 32% for hypertension.

“These statistics are symptomatic of an ongoing challenge that we face in our bid to get more men to access critical primary healthcare services,” expresses Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Patricia Van der Ross.

“Healthy families and communities start with healthy individuals. As a society, we need to start changing the narrative – it is perfectly fine, and in fact encouraged, for everyone to know their health status, to ask for help if they are not coping with the stresses and strains of life, and to access the lifesaving services that are available.”

Highlighting the urgency of the matter, Van der Ross underscores the country's troubling reality, where men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. Since 2007, the City has responded proactively by establishing eight substance abuse treatment facilities.

Suicide statistics

According to the World Health Organization, in 2019, South Africa witnessed 13,774 recorded suicide deaths, with a staggering 10,861 involving males.

From the Global Health Estimates report, South Africa has the third-highest suicide rate out of all African countries, at 23.5 per 100,000 population.