Teachers are uniquely placed to help teenagers who are contemplating suicide, the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) said on Tuesday.
"They often see teens for more hours in a day than their own parents do, they see how they interact with peers... they need to start asking hard hitting questions of themselves, and getting the right answers from teens," SADAG said in a statement.
The organisation said 9.5% of teenage deaths in the country were due to suicide. Only 25% of teens will seek
help from an adult, as most were concerned about how adults would react.
It said teachers thought years of special training was needed for them to help teenagers in distress, however, this was not true.
By "keeping a watchful eye on learners" and getting involved when children behave out of character, teachers could prevent tragedy, SADAG said.
The organisation said its message to teachers during Teen Suicide Prevention week, taking place from February 14 to 21, was to "watch and question the emotion behind the behaviour" of their students.
It urged teachers and students to visit an online forum on www.health24.com to get answers to their questions on this matter.
Psychologists, SADAG counsellors and psychiatrists would be available to answer questions and talk to teens one on one, should they require it, for the duration of the week. - (Sapa/February 2010)