The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) warns there are rising reports of youth suicides.
The youngest suicide, six years old, was reported in 2017. According to Sadag, over the last month, they had reports of several university student suicides.
Sadag deals with hundreds of calls each day related to youth and mental health – parents, teachers, universities, churches, communities and fellow teens in need of help.
The state of the crisis in South Africa is as follows:
- 31.5 per cent of teen suicide attempts required medical treatment.
- 17.6 per cent of teens had considered attempting suicide.
- One in four university students had been diagnosed with depression.
- Over 20 per cent of 18-year-olds has one or more suicide attempts.
- According to WHO, half of all mental health conditions start at 14 years of age but most cases are undetected and untreated.
- Male youths die by suicide more than female youths.
- One in six teens are/will be addicted to cannabis.
Clinical psychologist and Sadag board member Zamo Mbele said throughout 2018 they have heard of more and more university students who don’t cope under the pressure and who are not being able to cope with their problems, which has resulted in many suicides on campus.
“University students experience depression, stress and anxiety every day without any knowledge they are suffering from a mental illness,” said Mbele.
“Unfortunately, this has lead to many suicides which we can’t afford as a caring society. World Mental Health Day is important in spotlighting mental illness and promoting mental wellness for the student population which is a growing vulnerable group.
According to Sadag, depression does not discriminate and can affect any race, age, gender or religion.
Mbele said it’s important that parents, teachers, grandparents, loved ones and entire communities know that depression can affect young people too.
“It is important to know the signs and symptoms of depression, the suicide warning signs and how to get help before it is too late.”
Sadag’s operations director Cassey Chambers said: “From the hundreds of calls we receive every day, children, teens and young adults are dealing with many problems they feel they can’t handle.
“The main triggers include relationship problems, family issues, abuse, loss or grief, and trauma. Other contributing factors include exam stress, substance abuse, bullying, learning difficulties, financial issues and chronic illness.
“The youth are not equipped with enough coping skills or support structures to handle the kind of problems they have to deal with every day.”
Sadag is running an online campaign throughout October to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health, and to encourage young people to talk about issues that concern them.
Sadag’s #WhatIf campaign will feature on social media, follow on Facebook (the South African Depression and Anxiety Group) and Twitter (@TheSADAG).
Questions that will be discussed include what if more people knew there was help available before it was too late, what if people knew that depression was a real medical illness that needed real treatment, and what if we had more serious conversations about depression with our teens.
“By creating awareness and information we can educate more people on how to help young people in SA and get them help before it is too late,” said Mbele.
“With the matric final exams about to start, as well as all other exams for other grades and at universities – students will be dealing with increased pressure and stress, on top of everything they have been dealing with throughout the year.”
Below is a list of helplines that offer free telephonic counselling, information and referrals for people dealing with any mental health issue including stress.
- For a suicidal emergency contact Sadag on 0800 567 567, Sadag’s 24 hour helpline 0800 12 13 14
- Dr Reddy – 0800 21 22 23
- Pharmadynamics police and trauma – 0800 20 50 26
- Adcock Ingram depression and anxiety – 0800 70 80 90
- Destiny helpline for youth and students – 0800 41 42 43
- ADHD – 0800 55 44 33
- Department of Social Development substance abuse – 0800 12 13 14
- 24 hour suicide crisis helpline – 0800 567 567
- Cipla mental health helpline – 0800 456 789
- University of Cape Town student helpline 0800 24 25 26
- University of Pretoria student careline – 0800 747 747
- Discovery Medical student helpline – 0800 323 323
- Tshwane University of Technology (after hours) student helpline – 0800 687 888
- Suicide helpline 0800 567 567