In South Africa, the year 2017 brought the shattering news of an 8-year-old pupil in Mpumalanga having taken his own life while at school. In the same year, a 12-year-old pupil from Highlands North used her scarf to commit suicide, while a 19-year-old woman reportedly jumped to her death at the Wits Braamfontein campus in Johannesburg. These are just some of the heart-breaking suicides that took place last year, highlighting that our children and teens are in need of better mental health care and support. These tragedies also raise many questions. What would lead a child or teen to suicide? What can we do to prevent this?
In our country, 9,5% of all non-natural teen deaths are due to suicide and there are hundreds of suicide attempts every 24 hours. Teen Suicide Prevention Week runs from 11 to 18 February 2018. With so many of our youth affected by mental health conditions, it’s vital that we engage in open and honest conversations about such serious issues. To help us raise awareness around teen suicide prevention, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is calling on our country’s media to help us educate South Africans on the importance of Mental Health, how to recognise the signs of mental illness and suicidal thoughts amongst our adolescents, as well as what loved ones can do to intervene. Clinical Psychologist, Zamo Mbele says: “Teen suicides are real and rob many young people of a future. Let us speak about teen suicides today so that we may never have to in the future.”
SADAG runs the only Suicide Crisis Helplines in the country on 0800 567 567. Operations Director, Cassey Chambers, says: “You don’t have to be a mental health professional to reach out to people who may be thinking about suicide. Encouraging a teen who may be thinking of taking their life to share what is going on inside of them, and then truly listening with compassion and genuine concern can be incredibly helpful for those who’ve lost hope.”
We need your help to raise awareness about teen suicide prevention and the possible warning signs of teen suicide. Help us to help others. Help us to save lives!