Research shows that 1 in 5 teens has
and almost 17% have formulated a plan to take their lives. The teen years can
be emotionally turbulent and stressful.
For many teens suffering from depression,
loneliness and isolation are part of their daily struggle. “I felt so alone,
like no one could ever understand what I was going through. I started asking
myself if I was being pathetic and dramatic.”
Teens face pressures to succeed, fit in,
family and financial stress, loss and trauma, and many struggle with self-esteem
issues, self-doubt, and feelings of alienation.
“Very concerning is that 60% of youth who
have a mental health problem like depression,
anxiety or trauma, don’t get the help they need”, says SADAG’s Cassey Chambers.
Teen Suicide Prevention Week
The 16th February marks the start of
National Teen Suicide Prevention Week. The aim of this annual awareness week is
to educate the public about the warning signs of depression which can lead to suicide
Read: Suicidal teens become abusive adults
The South African Depression and Anxiety
Group (SADAG) runs the national teen suicide prevention line (0800 567 567 or
SMS 31393) which is open 7 days a week. In South Africa, 9.5% of teen deaths
are due to suicide. According to Researcher Prof Schlebusch, the 15-19 year age
group is most at risk for suicide.
Unbearable pain and suffering
Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape
unbearable pain and suffering. “Blinded by feelings of self-loathing,
hopelessness, and isolation, a severely depressed person can't see any way of
finding relief except through death”, explains psychologist Liane Lurie.
“They wish there was an alternative to
committing suicide, but they just can't see one.” This is why SADAG’s teen
suicide prevention programme, and National Teen Suicide Prevention Week, is so
vital – it gives teens hope for an alternative.
Through SADAG’s national school-based
programme, “Suicide shouldn’t be a secret”, approximately 700 000 teens have
been made aware of the signs, symptoms of depression and suicide, and
critically, how to intervene.
Read: Learn about the warning signs of teen suicide and how to act if your child is in trouble.
Knowing what to look for
“We know that many teen suicides could have
been prevented if people knew what to look for”, says Chambers who says that
SADAG often hears stories of teens who told friends about wanting to die, but
were not taken seriously.
There are so many youth who suffer in
silence, scared of being judged, unsure how to talk about how they are feeling.
Often, families are the last to know. TV personality, Sade Gilliberti, knows
this from first-hand experience.
One of the hardest things to do is speak to
a depressed teen – they are moody and emotional – and many people feel
uncomfortable with the topic of suicide.
Shrouded in secrecy
People don’t communicate openly about
suicide with the result that suicide is left shrouded in secrecy.
“Many youth wonder if it’s a good idea to
say anything to a friend if you notice something wrong”, says Chambers. “They
worry about their friend becoming angry but it is always better to risk the
friendship than to risk the friend. Get help before someone you care about does
something that can’t be reversed.”
Read: How to curb the increase in teen suicides
warning signs in teens:
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, or if you would like to
find out more about teen suicide prevention week, please contact SADAG Meryl,
Cassey or Naazia on 0800 567 567 or 011 262 6396 or visit them http://www.sadag.org/
SA teens: high suicide risk
Take action against teen suicide
Suicide rates high in SA teens