Teenagers fight suicide

2018-06-27 06:02

The Dimpho Project was initiated in memory of a Gr. 9 learner who committed suicide at the Wrenchville High School last year.

This is what drives the school’s 2018 Youth Citizen Action Programme (YCAP) team, and the project led to them scooping the provincial title on 16 June.

The team consists of ten girls who are focused on breaking the stigma and silence associated with suicide. The project has made it to the top position for the second time in a row.

The Wrenchville High School will now represent the province at the national YCAP championships, to be held in Mpumalanga from 27 to 29 July.

Previously, the team only managed to achieve second position in the national competition.

On 16 June four high schools and three primary schools showcased their talents in Upington.

Among the highlights of the project, named after Dimpho Moetsi (who committed suicide in 2017 at the age of 15) is the creation of a Facebook group named Dimpho Project – YCAP.

To date, the page has earned more than 1 000 likes, while the group has attracted more than 3 500 members.

The team has also made an anti-suicide video, which is going viral, having already reaching more than 20 000 viewers.

According to the team’s mentor and teacher Micheal Ludick, the team held an anti-suicide week at the school from 19 to 23 March.

The team presented a speech and dance performance during the school’s assembly, which addressed issues related to parenting, drug and alcohol abuse, body image, bullying, peer pressure and harmful relationships.

On the Tuesday they introduced the semi-colon “tattoos” they had designed.

“The semi-colon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life. Don’t end your life.”

They participated in a silent protest in Kuruman on Human Rights Day (21 March), during which they taped their mouths shut and walked around with messages that read: “It’s not your right to take your life, there is hope after a suicide attempt”.

On the Thursday they had a pledge-signing ceremony, during which learners put paint on their hands, and then pressed it onto a banner, pledging to not commit suicide. They also released yellow balloons into the air in memory of people lost to suicide, including Dimpho.

On the Friday they ran a fat cake sale to raise funds for the launch of the Yellow Ribbon project in South Africa.

The Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention programme is a programme which was started in America.

To this day, the campaign has seen more than 18 000 600 cards, which include the 850 cards distributed at the Wrenchville High School, being handed out.

More than 100 000 lives are reported to have been saved through this project, of which 6 972 chapters and programme sites throughout the world exist.

The team is now proud to be regarded as running the first chapter of this project in South Africa, which is the second chapter in the whole of Africa.

The partnership was sealed by a delegation Zambians who were hosted from 2 to 5 May at the school to launch the project.

The project further saw the realisation of gatekeeper training for the teachers, who were taught how to identify learners and support them if they are suicidal.

Trainee peer education training was conducted for learners on how to help each other and themselves.

More than 850 cards, arm bands sponsored by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group and flyers, as well as information regarding suicide and yellow ribbons, were distributed.

To conclude the programme, a Miss YCAP beauty pageant was hosted at the Wrenchville Civic Centre, attracting more than 400 young people from all over, including models of the Kalahari High School. Models carried anti-suicide boards and spread a positive message.

The message portrayed also addressed negative body image.

Learners of the Wrenchville Primary School was treated to an assembly performance, with the Gr. 4 to Gr. 7 learners being motivated to spread the anti-suicide project.

The team had a free hug day at the mall during which they motivated all the people they could find, giving them hugs and motivational cards with the suicide prevention helpline number on it.

Ludick applauded the project and the hard work that the learners had put into it for impacting the learners attending the Wrenchville High School, the teachers and the community.

The learners tested their impact by having pre- and post-questionnaires distributed at the school.

The percentage of depressed learners at the school, according to Ludick, is reported to have dropped from 81,8% to 29,29% while the percentage of learners who want to commit suicide had dropped from 75% to 14,8%.

“Therefore the team really made a difference and taught learners that their lives matter and they should not commit suicide,” said Ludick.

The team taught learners that their lives


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