The news of an eight-year-old learner in Mpumalanga taking his own life while at school last year left many in SA shocked. In the same year, a 12-year-old learner 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 heartbreaking suicides that took place last year, highlighting that children and teens are in need of better mental healthcare and support, Joburg East Express reports.
In SA, 9.5 per cent of all nonnatural teen deaths are due to suicide and hundreds of suicide attempts are reported every 24 hours.
To raise awareness about teen suicide prevention, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) is calling on all South Africans to help in educating others on the importance of mental health, how to recognise the signs of mental illness and suicidal thoughts among adolescents and what loved ones can do to intervene.
“Teen suicides are real and rob many young people of a future as well as our society of a future. Let us speak about teen suicides today so that we may never have to in the future,” said clinical psychologist Zamo Mbele.
Sadag runs the only suicide crisis helplines in the country, 0800 567 567.
“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,” said operations director Cassey Chambers.
Warning signs to look out for in yourself and others:
• Talking or thinking about dying.
• Experiencing deep depression, mood swings or feelings of emptiness.
• Talking about being in pain or feeling trapped.
• Withdrawing from loved ones.
• Feeling hopeless and alone.
• Using more alcohol or drugs.
• Feeling like a burden to others.
• Acting reckless or agitated.
• Experiencing changes in eating, sleeping and energy levels.
• Preparing for death like setting up a will or giving away personal loved possessions.
• Finding no pleasure in anything.