Suicides double in Gauteng in the past year
It may indicate a trend towards a reaction to increased social, financial and political pressures, says Liberty report
Suicides nearly doubled in Gauteng over the past year, raising questions over increased social, financial and political stressors in SA, according to Liberty's claims statistics, which were released on Monday.
The number of suicides in Gauteng increased from 78 in 2017, to 152 in 2018 and makes up 2.51% of all claims. KwaZulu-Natal had the second-highest number of suicides, followed by the Western Cape.
The highest rate was among young parents between 35 and 45, followed by empty nesters, 55 years and older, established providers (45-55) and young achievers (25-35).
Another emerging trend in Gauteng was that it made up more than 31% of all motor vehicle accident claims across the country.
Reluctant to speculate
Ursula Torr, lead actuarial specialist at Liberty, said it was difficult to attribute the exact causes to suicide claims and their rise.
“This may have been an abnormal year in our claims payouts or it may indicate a trend towards a reaction to increased social, financial and political pressures. People go through issues and we would rather not speculate,” said Torr.
Though cancer remains the highest cause of claims related to critical illness, death and disability, there has been a decline in death-related claims.
“Chances are, they'll contract another condition that requires further medical care. This results in a significant financial impact on households in terms of family lifestyle, work, and the ability to earn an income, said Dr Thabani Nkwanyama, medical officer at Liberty.
Prostate cancer is the most prominent claim cause for men, at 32.3%,, while breast cancer makes up nearly 50% of cancer claims for women.
Colon and rectal cancer are the second-most common cancer claims in men and women, at 14.3% and 7.5% respectively.
Another new trend was in increase in “survival claims” – any claim that is not death related: retrenchments, diseases, disability, accidents, income protection, cancer and trauma.
The percentage of claims that were paid to surviving claimants was almost 70%.
Torr attributed this to medical advancements, improved life expectancy, early detection and diagnosis of critical illnesses, and critical illnesses no longer being a death sentence.
“This means there needs to be a shift towards preparing for survival.”
Data from 2015 to 2018 shows that this can be achieved through a multi-benefit package of cover, and long-term insurers and financial advisers should consider a good balance of lifestyle protection cover, and not just death insurance.
Torr said it was important that people meet their financial advisers and use these insights to check that they are adequately covered for life’s unexpected moments.