Teen suicide is becoming more common every year in South Africa. In fact only car accidents and homicide kill more youth between the ages of 15 and 24. In South Africa 9% of all teen deaths are caused by suicide. The fastest growing age is young people under 35, specifically female suicides which peak between 15 to 19 years.

Research indicates that although more females attempt suicide, more males succeed. This is due to the more violent nature males select. Girls are more likely to overdose on medication, or take chemicals, whereas boys often find access to firearms or hang themselves.

There is a major link between Depression and Suicide. Most of the time teen depression is a passing mood. Sadness, loneliness, grief and disappointments we all feel at times, and are normal reactions to life’s struggles. However undiagnosed depression can lead to tragedy. Up to one third of all suicide victims had attempted suicide previously.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) answer the National Toll Free Suicide Crisis Line which takes a huge number of calls from teens who are calling for themselves or on behalf of a friend. This line has already saved thousand of lives, and with funding from Foundations, the Department of Mental Health and World Bank. This program not only encourages teens to come forward but also tells them where to go for help in their own community and how to contact the Suicide Line. There is help and we show them all their options. With treatment, over 70% can make a recovery.

Skilled counsellors support the lines (0800 567 567) and encourage teens to get professional help, to talk to an adult they trust, to go to a doctor, or talk to a church leader.

The fact that huge numbers of young people still take their own lives spurs on our teachers, educators, police, clinics, churches, NGO’s, community based organisations, youth and support groups to even greater efforts to improve education, reduce stigma and halt this increase and realise that Mental Health Matters.

KEY SIGNS OF DEPRESSION:

  • Loss of interest in things you like to do
  • Sadness that won’t go away
  • Irritability or feeling angry a lot

OTHER SIGNS INCLUDE:

  • Feeling guilty or hopeless
  • Not enjoying things you once liked
  • Feeling tense or worrying a lot
  • Crying a lot
  • Spending a lot of time alone
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Having low energy or restless feelings
  • Feeling tired a lot
  • Missing school a lot
  • Hard time making decisions
  • Having trouble thinking or paying attention
  • Thinking of dying or killing yourself

Take a look at the list above and check the things that describe your thoughts, feelings or actions in the last two weeks, if you have more than 2 of these signs and have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, please contact the free SADAG 24 hour suicide crisis helpline 0800 567 567 for immediate support.