Suicide survivor on a mission to end suicides

Suicide survivor on a mission to end suicides

Nkululeko Khanyi from Ungazibulali Depression Support Group chats to us about the work he is doing to put an end to suicide in the lives of celebrities and ordinary citizens.

Khanyi Nkululeko
Khanyi Nkululeko/ Provided

Depression affects millions of people around the world. In 2018, South Africa lost three stars who took their own lives after suffering from depression - musician Jabulani Tsambo (HHP), award-winning actress Shoki Mokgapa, and radio personality Lara Kruger.

READ: Hip-hop star HHP dies at 38

Suicide ambassador Khanyi Nkululeko says this must come to end as he believes “suicide is not an answer nor a solution”. After surviving suicide and suffering from depression, Khanyi is now using his experience to aid those who are feeling suicidal.

“I understand what people are going through. I have been there several times. When I lost a car, house, parents in short space of time, and siblings, I was thinking I was a failure, no one loves me, God doesn’t love me,” says Khanyi. He then tried to kill himself.

READ: World Suicide Prevention Day 2018: You are not alone

Because of his experience, Khanyi is devoting his life to ensuring that no one else has to suffer and take his or her own life because of depression. 

He has started an initiative called “Ungazibulali Depression and Suicide National Campaign” where he has teamed up with local celebrities such as former TKZee member Sbu Ntshangase, Khanyi Magubane, Criselda Dudumashe, Rebecca Malope, and Hlengiwe Mhlaba to help tackle the issue of suicide.

“I have worked with a lot of celebrities and have been in the industry for more than 20 years. Most celebrities are living with depression. Fame kills them because one day you are a star and the next day people don’t even recognise you. We are losing people and will lose more HHPs if we don’t speak out and talk about this,” adds Khanyi.

He says that his initiative's main goal is "to reach and save the souls who feel their life is unfair, cursed, and those who have lost hope in many ways. We have artists, celebrities and dignitaries who are involved as brand ambassadors who came out to say we are all living with depression and we have attempted suicide many times because of the pain,” says the international suicide ambassador.

Not only is he running the Ungazibulali initiative, but he even has a centre in Pretoria where he helps people suffering from depression. 

“Government has promised to come on board, but for now I am running the centre with my own funds. Depression doesn’t happen in one day. You need time to heal and talk, and that’s why we have sessions,” says Khanyi.

He says the most important thing when dealing with suicidal thoughts is to seek help.

"Crying is not a sin, and talking heals," says Khanyi.

He says men suffer more with depression because of the stigma in society that men are not supposed to cry.

"Most people who commit suicide are men, most abusers are men, most people who take nyaope are young boys. Men suffer, but don't speak out because when they do, people ridicule them and they don't know who to cry to. I am trying to change this and hope to have workshops just targeted to men," says Khanyi. 

He encourages people to open up about their problems and says that anyone in need of help can contact Ungazibulali Depression and Suicide Campaign on Facebook or on 011 524 6146.

“If I manage to reach even one person and help them make meaning of their lives and restore family values, humanity, self-respect, I will be at peace,” concludes Khanyi. 

For more on what to do when feeling suicidal, read Dealing with suicide – expert advice.

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