Tell parents to try harder to be there for their teens says mom who lost her daughter to suicide


Almost one in ten teenage deaths in South Africa is caused by suicide, with depression being named as the cause in more than 90% of cases.

Depression is a treatable illness, and suicide a preventable tragedy.

To learn more about this, and about how to protect your child, read here

Mom Tania Jonker wrote to us, sharing her heartbreaking story, and urging parents to  try harder to be there for the children.

She writes:

"I am a mother of beautiful 20 year old Kayleigh, who committed suicide on 10/10/2019, ironically on World Mental Health Awareness Day.

She woke up and ended her life without any warning or consideration for her housemates, brother or me. She never said a word to anyone to allow them a chance to stop her.

By 7 am, she was dead.

My daughter was happy some days and unhappy other days. She never showed the warning signs of someone considering suicide. She was normal in her abnormal mannerisms.

We spoke about life issues, work issues and personal things she was going through. We spoke. I listened as best I could. I believe she spoke as best she could.

But I never once asked her, if she was considering suicide. I realise I was not seeing the signs. 

I sit now thinking back, scratching in every corner of my mind for the signs. 

What did I miss that could have saved my child?

Why did I not ask her the right questions?

Why did I not call my child more in what was apparently her time of need?

I went through my daughter's cellphone after she died, she never once tried calling any helpline for help. I cannot answer my questions. 

Days I cannot face the truth of my reality. I don't have my baby anymore.

I write a Facebook post every single day to memorise my daughter's face. I have lost her scent, I have lost her hugs, I have lost her love.

I have lost her future.

I fight to keep her memory alive. I write to share my grief, her existence and our failure to be there for her when she was in dire need of support.

Tell parents to try harder to be there for their teens.


I love Kayleigh"

Reach out

If you are not sure who to turn to, or feel your teen won't confide in anyone they know, or someone else you know is at risk, encourage them to reach out to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) or call 0800 567 567 or 0800 456 789 any day of the week to speak to a counsellor.

SADAG has trained counsellors available from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.

Chat back:

Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

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