Watch: Reach out to prevent teen suicide

Almost one in 10 teen deaths in South Africa are suicide related.

This is according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag).

According to Sadag, an average of 23 suicides and 230 serious attempts are recorded every day in South Africa.

Depression, alcohol and drug use, self-injury and bullying are some of the causes leading to suicide. In SA, one in four teens have attempted suicide.

Psychiatrist Dr Helen Clarke says: “Teen suicide is for the most part an impulsive act by a teenager who is very likely to be struggling with probably multiple issues in their personal, family or school life. The impulsive act occurs in response to a stressor that is just one too much for an adolescent to deal with.”

Operations director Cassey Chambers says: “This Teen Suicide Prevention Week, and we’d like for all South Africans to know that they can make a difference in a teen’s life simply by taking a minute to check in with them.

”You don’t have to be a mental health professional to reach out to a teen who may be feeling depressed, those whose pain may feel too big to live with.

“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.

“It is therefore important to know the warning signs of suicide and get help as soon as possible – it could save a life.”

To support Teen Suicide Prevention Week, Sadag is hosting two live chats on #FacebookFriday, February 16, with educational psychologist Tshepiso Matentjie at 1pm, and with psychologist Cindy van Wyk at 7pm.

During these online Q&As one can ask any question regarding teen suicides, including warning signs of depression, self-help and tips.

To log in, visit and click on the link or go directly to Sadag’s Facebook page.

Here are some warning signs to look out for in yourself or a loved one:

  • Talking or thinking about dying.
  • Experiencing deep depression, mood swings or emptiness.
  • Talking about being in pain or feeling trapped.
  • Withdrawing from loved ones.
  • Using more alcohol or drugs.
  • Feeling hopeless and alone.
  • Feeling like a burden to others.

Comments like “nothing matters any more” or “you’d be better off without me” are major red flags and need attention immediately.

Sadag runs a suicide crisis helpline and may be reached on 0800 567 567.

Sunel Gilliland

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