Failure shouldn’t mean a ‘death sentence’

2015-12-17 06:00

THE pressure on a matric pupil, who may underachieved or not passed their final exam, is immense­ - so much so that these teenagers often think of harming themselves.

According to a press release issued by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), 9.5% of teen deaths in South Africa are caused by suicide. One of the triggers could be exam disappointment.

“Many young people are led to believe they are personally a failure if they do not achieve high marks. Society as a whole places a great deal of focus on symbols and marks and not enough emphasis on achievement outside of the area of education,” said clinical phsycologist Anita kriel.

“Not everyone is academic and when the pressure to excel academically is put on personalities who are perfectionists or students who have unrealistic expectations and ideals of their professional goals it can be a lethal combination,” she added.

Kriel said the fear of failure and letting people down, whether it be themselves, their family, friends or the school, is widespread.

“If you factor in family breakdown and the economic stresses in society, then it is little wonder that mental ill health is on the increase among children and teens.”

Teen suicide is a universal problem and only one of the reasons young people commit suicide is academic stress. In this transition period, teenagers also face a great deal of stress in adapting and adjusting to their independence and to establishing their own personality and identity.

As the time for exam results comes closer it is important for matriculants, their parents and schools to consider some of the following:

• Try to be realistic about matric results.

• Parents also need to be aware of unrealistic expectations they may place on their children in trying to live their own dreams through their children.

• A university education does not guarantee a high-paying job or even gaining employment.

• In addition, universities have limited spaces for certain degrees, such as medicine for example.

• There are many learning and career options available for young people that do not include university.

“Parents and teachers should assist young people to try to find positive aspects in the outcomes they may regard as failures.

“Focus on what has been achieved, rather than on what has not been achieved.

“In addition, it is important for teachers and parents to assist young people to have a plan B and a variety of career options.”

She said parents and guardians must listen and talk to young people – let them express their disappointments and give them love and support.

If a young person has a history of depression­ or has mentioned death or suicide always take it seriously and refer­ the child for professional help.

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