February 14 – 17 marked
Teen Suicide Prevention Week
A whole week dedicated to teen suicide? As extreme as it may seem, it is also extremely necessary to shed light on this serious issue. Suicide is now the leading cause of death amongst young people.
This awareness week is an initiative by The South African Depression and Anxiety Group and the National Department of Health and aims to encourage conversation amongst young people and provide support to the youth, their parents and teachers.
Adolescence can be a time of change and uncertainty. During this time (like any other life stage), it is normal to feel sad, confused, unsure and scared. However, when these feelings are persistent or compounded by severe adverse life events, it may be detrimental to a person’s mental wellbeing. This can progress into a mental health disorder. Mental disorders, in particular affective disorders (like depression), are a strong predictor of suicide behaviour in young people.
Some key driving factors behind the state of our youth’s mental health include:
- Unemployment – In 2020, 56% of youth were unemployed in the country.
- Researchers predict the suicide risk may be elevated by 20-30% when a person is unemployed.
- Limited youth-friendly mental healthcare services
- In 2019, only three of the nine provinces have child psychiatrists working in the public sector.
- Bullying – Over 30% of children reported that they had been ‘called unkind names’ by their peers. In the Free State, a third of children reported ‘being hit’ by other children and in Gauteng, a third of children reported being ‘left out’ or excluded.
Help is available.
For those who are suicidal and need help or are unsure how to help someone in need, contact the National Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567. This number is free and offers counselling in all 11 official languages.