Teen suicide signs to look out for

2019-02-21 06:01
teen suicide preventionFoto:

teen suicide preventionFoto:

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The week of 11 to 18 February was used to mark national Teen Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, during which the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) focused on sharing valuable information through school talks, online content and its Facebook Friday online chats.Jamey Gordon chatted to Cassey Chambers, operations director of the organisation, which has an active local branch, on the topic.

  • What is the significance of Teen Suicide Prevention Awareness Week?

It’s really important that we highlight teen suicide prevention and put it on the mental health calendar where it should have been for many years. It’s really important as Sadag has fought to highlight teen suicide prevention for the last 25 years, because it is such an issue in society. We use this time of the year, specifically the beginning of the year, when school starts again, to ensure we talk about this important topic. The idea is to prevent suicides from occurring throughout the year. It’s a national awareness week, something we promote, where we educate as many people as possible.

  • Can you provide insight into the latest statistics and trends?

Unfortunately, we don’t have any stats or research to backup the statement, but we are hearing more cases of young children committing suicide. Perhaps this is due to a number of new factors, including technology – such as cyberbullying and social media – as well as being exposed to more traumatic experiences, whether through the media, from their family or even their community. We also know that there is an increase in family problems, including divorce, abuse and separation. All of these factors contribute to a child feeling so overwhelmed that they feel the only way to end their problems is to end their life.

  • What can parents do if they are worried that their teen is suicidal?

Parents should learn the warning signs, talk to their children about depression and suicide, and exercise open communication between themselves and their children. By learning the warning signs of depression and suicide, they can prevent their child from taking their own life, but it also equips them to look out for depression symptoms and how to get help before it is too late.

) What are the danger signs?

Depression is the leading cause of suicide. Depression makes people feel hopeless and helpless, and they often see no reason to live.

Alcohol and drug use are often connected to suicide. Alcohol and drugs can actually add to depression, and make it worse in depressed people. They also affect one’s judgement and lessen self-control.

Bullying is a common problem in schools, and many children and teens who are bullied feel worthless and hopeless. Being bullied can make them feel depressed and, sadly, many teens who are targets of physical or cyber bullying attempt suicide or become very depressed.

Self-injury: many people believe that teens who cut or hurt themselves are suicidal. This isn’t always true. People hurt themselves as a way to cope with problems. This isn’t a healthy way and there is help.

Look out for talking or joking about suicide, preparing for death, self-criticism, changes in personality, loss of interest in appearance and a drop in hygiene, risk taking behaviour, excessive feelings of guilt, self-blame or failure, poems, essays or SMSes on death and paintings, or images illustrating death.

  • What support is available to parents and their suicidal teens?

Sadag offers free telephonic counselling (on 0800 21 22 33) seven days a week, from 08:00 to 20:00. More information includes self-help tips, online videos and local and international articles on various mental health issues, which are also available on www.sadag.org.

One can also make use of the Cipla Whatsapp Chat available from Monday to Sunday between 09:00 and 15:00; and the Ke Moja Substance Abuse Online Counselling at www.sadag.org from Monday to Sunday, 10:00 until 14:00.

The online counselling offers connections to Sadag’s 24-hour helplines and provides daily resources, information, counselling and referrals.

Other helplines are: Sadag Suicide Crisis (0800 567 567), Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety (0800 70 80 90), ADHD Helpline (0800 55 44 33), Dr Reddy’s Helpline (0800 21 22 23) and Cipla 24-hour Mental Health Helpline (0800 456 789).

There is always help.

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