‘Take all suicide threats seriously’

DO not judge matrics who have failed or not done well in their exams - rather find ways to help them.

This is the appeal from Health Department head Dr Sifiso Mtshali, who said in a statement that in South Africa, the average suicide rate is 17,2 per 100 000 (eight percent of all deaths), according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag). He said suicide due to failing matric is regarded as a contributor to the high rate of suicides among youth in SA.

“There is concern that the matric results period may aggravate symptoms for those who are already depressed, and some may not have been diagnosed as such,” said Mtshali, warning that all suicide threats should be taken seriously.

Quoting Sadag, he said warning signs include talking or joking about suicide, depression (identified as a loss of interest in things normally enjoyed), preparing for death (such as giving favourite things away), self-criticism, and changes in personality, such as sudden negative and aggressive behaviour. Mtshali urged people to become more vigilant when interacting with 2015 matric pupils who had not performed well in their exams. “This will help them to identify signs of suicidal behaviour in order to find ways to assist them.

“South Africa has the eighth highest rate of suicide in the world, according to the South African Federation for Mental Health. Such statistics cannot be ignored. History has shown us that some matriculants who don’t do well in the exams tend to struggle to cope with the results and end up taking their own lives.

“This is a desperate call for us as civil society, parents, friends, colleagues and government to step in and reaffirm our ubuntu values and commitment,” said Mtshali.

He said every hospital in the province has a system of referral for those requiring counselling, and anyone needing assistance is urged to get in touch with their nearest health facility.

- Supplied.

SIDEBAR

According to Sadag, people who are suicidal can be helped in the following ways:

• Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.

• Be willing to listen. Allow the expression of feelings. Accept the feelings.

• Be non-judgmental. Do not debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Do not lecture on the value of life.

• Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.

• Do not dare him or her to do it.

• Do not act shocked. This will put distance between you.

• Do not be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.

• Offer hope that alternatives are available, but do not offer glib reassurance.

• Ask if you may contact a family member.

• Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.

• Do not leave them alone. Get help from persons specialising in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

• If necessary, get in touch with the police at 10111, or the KZN Emergency Medical Services at 10177, 112 or 0800 005 133.

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