IN the late 1970s, although stories of white husbands shooting their wives (and sometimes their children) before killing themselves were fairly common, as I have noted before these were almost always reported as if the killer had been a victim of some terrifying unnamed gunman rather than having died at his own hand. In news stories at the time, the term ‘suicide’ was used predominantly to refer to deaths in detention, primarily of black victims, although there were also a few prominent white figures who died under suspicious circumstances.
The other frequent appearance of the term ‘suicide’ was in connection with editorial pieces expressing concern about what was apparently the growing rate of suicide in South Africa, usually featuring quotes or insight from Sam Bloomberg. Bloomberg was a former police reservist and one-time National Party MP for Bezuidenhout Valley, and had been the head of the South African chapter of Suicides Anonymous since the late 1960s. He had all sorts of insights and observations about the causes and profile of suicide in apartheid South Africa, and he appeared in literally hundreds of articles between the late 1970s and early 1990s.
Bloomberg’s theories around suicide were quite varied, and tended to be both oddly unsympathetic while still expressing care for potential victims. He frequently blamed white South African males for not being resilient enough, and having a poor ability to deal with hardship. He once described (white and black) South African men as ‘bad lovers and bad losers’. At the same time, though, he was extremely vocal about the negative role that South African women played in this dynamic, and regularly blamed female partners of homicidal and suicidal men for ‘triggering’ their partners into killing them, most frequently through withholding sexual favours, or taunts about their partner’s sexual inadequacies...
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