It’s ok not to be ok – World Suicide Prevention Month

12 September 2017 – On Saturday, 9 September, over 200 pairs of shoes were laid out on the Sea Point Promenade. Each pair of shoes, bearing the imprint of the South African man who once walked in it, were a silent testimony to the men’s lives lost in our country each month.

South Africa has the eighth-highest suicide rate in the world, with 540 men dying monthly. Four out of five suicides are at the hands of men taking their own lives.

“It’s a crisis when we’re losing the futures of 18 men daily in this country and we don’t talk about it or the public is not aware of it,” says Garron Gsell, chief executive and founder of the Men’s Foundation.

“As Movember, we are leading this charge, as we’ve done with prostate and testicular cancer, to address the health issues affecting South African men and raise funds for research and support programmes that enable men to live happier, healthier and longer lives. To support, donate or participate, or for more information on local programmes, visit”

According to Gsell, many men are now more comfortable in discussing certain health issues, however the subject of mental health is still taboo.

“We need to destigmatise depression by getting men, our husbands, brothers and partners, to understand that ‘it’s ok not to be ok’.  That friendships are there for support if you simply reach out and start these conversations.”

There is a general perception that vulnerability is a sign of weakness, but it is actually a sign of great strength, he adds.

“When men struggle to cope, we see it as something shameful and a sign of weakness, not knowing that other men are facing the same challenges and feeling that we are incapable.

Men are always wanting to fix or repair everything, even when we don’t have the tools ourselves. This often leads to us helping others to hide our personal battles. The result is that we feel isolated and suffer in silence hiding behind a fear of judgement until suicide seems like the only solution.”

The global Movember-rated barbers’ initiative provides crisis communication to help when dealing with clients who open up while they are in the barber chair. This will be launched in South Africa in 2017/18.

“The current reality is that government funding primarily focuses on women, children and the elderly, and there are very good reasons for this,” Gsell says. “What that means is that if we want to help men, then we have to rely on the private and public sectors to donate and invest in programmes that will make a difference.”

Currently in South Africa, men have a life expectancy that is seven years’ shorter than that of women. The Men’s Foundation aims to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25% by 2030 through its prostate cancer and mental health campaigns.

“Every suicide leaves behind friends and family who can’t understand why it happened,” Gsell says.  “There are so many unanswered questions facing those left behind with the pain of not having noticed the change in behaviour until it was too late. We are making a stand for men to understand that when they are struggling there is support available.”

For more info, download the Movember app on your mobile device. Follow Movember on social media: @MovemberRSA on Twitter or facebook/MovemberSouthAfrica.


Notes to the Editor

Emergency Lines


0861 322 322

Suicide Crisis Line
0800 567 567

SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837


About Movember

The Movember Foundation is the leading global men’s health charity, funding over 1,200 projects in 21 countries worldwide – focused on men’s health initiatives, suicide prevention and testicular and prostate cancer.

Movember is ranked 49th out of the top 500 NGOs (non-governmental organisations) around the world and is the largest non-governmental funder of men’s health programmes globally. To date, Movember has raised over $800 million worldwide to deliver innovative, breakthrough research and support programmes that enable men to live happier, healthier and longer lives.

In South Africa, Movember is grown and groomed by The Men’s Foundation of South Africa under license from the International Movember Foundation. The Men’s Foundation is developing and implementing global programmes, as well as their own programmes, working with their beneficiary partners, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of South Africa (PCFSA), to fund men’s survivorship and research programmes that meet the global objectives of the Movember Foundation.

Since 2010, over R25 million has been donated to the Cancer Association of South Africa through local Movember efforts. These funds have been invested in a Patient Navigation Programme, Cancer Cohort Programme and an on-line patient support centre. Iron Man, its biggest single investment in one programme, will be launched in the coming weeks.

To support, donate or participate, or for more information on local programmes, please visit



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Issued by:                                Magna Carta PR

Nabiella De Beer

084 697 8102



On behalf of:                          Movember South Africa