Dealing with depression and debt

By Staff Writer

For many South Africans petrol price hikes and electricity tariffs has come with tough budget restrictions and empty wallets. For others, financial problems have made them very desperate and resulted in them making very tragic decisions.


Last Thursday (18 July) a Media24 employee, Paul Nothnagel, shot himself after killing his two daughters Chane (18) and Mischke (14) and seriously wounding his ex-wife, Linda. According to reports, financial pressure was one of the contributing factors that drove him over the edge.


In a separate incident, pensioner, Bohuslav Kautsky’s (67) committed suicide outside the syndication company’s offices in Waterkloof Heights, Pretoria. Kautsky had invested in the Sharemax Ponzi Scheme and his daughter, Iva, told Moneyweb that he had no way of surviving because of the financial losses due to the investment.


Has the cost of living become too much for South Africans?
According to Cassey Chambers, operations director at the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), they have received an increase in calls related to financial problems.


“Three years ago we had between 150 and 200 callers a day. Today we have 400 calls a day which shows more people need help with daily psychological problems,” said Chambers.
She added that the stress of financial problems caused by job loss and debt often lead to other social problems like strain in relationships, divorce and family violence.


Anxiety and panic attacks are also just some of the many psychological ramifications which can be induced by stress.
“One in five South Africans suffer from some form of a mental illness which means that financial stress will have a psychological impact on a lot of South Africa’s population,” said Chambers.


Is there hope?
Chambers added that there are many alternatives to suicide when faced with financial problems. “Our services are free of charge and we also refer people, who can’t afford a psychologist, to a community clinic, a public hospital or a councillor. When faced with financial problems people should also try to get help from a debt councillor,” said Chambers.


Prevention is better than cure
With many South Africans spending 76% of their income on debt, Paul Roelofse, consumer advocate for the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa said that people create debt when they try to live beyond their means.


“When you face a tight financial situation you should not borrow more money to get you out of it. You need to learn to live with what you have,” said Roelofse.


In the current low interest rate environment, Roelofse said people worldwide are finding it hard to resist the urge to borrow money to live a life they can’t afford.

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