HIV-positive people more suicidal - study

South Africans living with HIV/AIDS are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population, according to a researcher from the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine.

The Star newspaper quoted Professor Lourens Schlebusch as saying: "As such [suicide] is a process. Given this, not only mental health experts but also the family practitioner and primary healthcare workers, who usually have ongoing contact with patients, can play a critical role in the prevention and management of this problem."

The research findings are reinforced by those of South Africa's Depression and Anxiety Group, who recently suggested that HIV-positive people need greater psychological and emotional support.

Schlebusch estimates that 20 to 40 attempts occur every hour, and one South African per hour successfully commits suicide.