You would think that people would sympathise when someone revealed that they had attempted to end their life several times. But that was not the response HHP received yesterday.
The Bosso Ke Mang hitmaker was instead belittled and ridiculed, with some even calling him weak for revealing that he had been through three failed suicide attempts.
HHP, who told DESTINY today that he’d decided to open up about his depression to Gareth Cliff because he’s known him for years, said that he’s now in an awesome space.
While the response to HHP’s suicide attempt revelation is shocking, it’s not surprising because some people in the black community still do not regard depression as a serious illness.
There are a number of reasons for this, the main one being a lack of knowledge about mental illness. Many still believe that depression only affects white people and is a sign of weakness.
Zizo Zaula, who suffered from depression a few years ago, says many people struggle to give support to those who are depressed because they really don’t understand what depression is.
“I wasn’t happy where I worked and I hated living in Johannesburg, and for some time I struggled to sleep and I had back pains. I didn’t know I was depressed,” she says.
When her doctor told Zaula she was showing signs of depression, she refused to believe it. And instead of dealing with it, she started drinking to suppress it. After some time she decided to stop drinking and went to church instead, still avoiding treatment. This is when her depression became serious and she admitted to hospital, where she was treated for depression.
Now on medication and doing well, she says: “I think people still need to educate themselves about depression because when you’re depressed, that’s when you need family support the most.
“Although my family did not understand what depression is, they were very supportive. When I came out of hospital, I decided to leave my job and move as most of my problems were caused by living in the city,” she says.
Psychiatrist Dr Jan Tshabalala says that there is still stigma around depression in the black community. “People will say that you are weak for seeing a shrink. They will tell you to pull yourself together. Other people in our community will refer to black magic and say that (bakuloyile) you have been bewitched,” he says.
Dr Tshabalala says he usually holds a family session after a patient has been diagnosed with depression.
“Families must not stigmatise the person who is dealing with depression. Getting informed and being supportive is all the family can do. He adds that we all have different levels of emotional resilience when dealing with life’s challenges.
Dr Tshabalala says there are certain red flags to look out for that could indicate that someone is depressed. These include: a loss of interest in activites the person used to enjoy, excessive or little sleeping, feelings of hopelessness, constant talk about dying, and aggression and irritability.