18-25 February is Teen Suicide Prevention Week and this year the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is training teachers on how to identify teens at risk and intervene to save lives.

Suicide touches everyone of all ages, socio-ecocomic groups, races, religions, and gender

The emotional toll on those left behind remains long after the event. Suicide is the leading cause of death in youth aged 15 – 29. In South Africa, suicide accounts for 9.5% of all unnatural teen deaths. The National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey 2011 shows that 17.6% of teens have considered attempting suicide, while 31.5% of teen suicide attempts required medical treatment.

SADAG’s Operations Director, Cassey Chambers says, “Too many teens are taking their lives and more needs to be done to prevent this needless tragedy.”

Teen suicide is a preventable tragedy – an issue that can only be solved through help and education. Teachers are in the perfect position to identify a teen at risk and reach out to them. While suicides rarely take place at school, 75% of people who commit suicide display warning signs first. SADAG knows that when teachers and schools are educated and made aware of the warning signs of learners in trouble – and have the knowledge to appropriately intervene, lives are saved.

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The first line in preventing suicide is the promotion of learner well-being and resilience within a positive school environment.

Children and teens are far more likely to come into contact with people who can help them at school than in any other environment

  • “Do not wait for your friend to start showing you the warning signs, that she is sad most of the time, cries a lot without consolation, feels terrible guilt for no reason and has a sense of emptiness.
  • Do not wait for her to say that she cannot be happy anymore and is hopeless about the future.
  • Do not wait for the warning signs, ask gently and listen carefully”, says clinical psychologist, Zamo Mbele.

Problems are more evident in a school setting and teachers have more face-time with learners than parents. This is why the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is reaching out to schools.

SADAG in partnership with AKESO are hosting FREE Workshops on Saturday 25 February 2017 from 09:00 – 11:00am, to raise awareness on Teen Suicide Prevention to help identify the symptoms of depression, the warning signs of suicide and how to get help.

The workshop is open to parents, teachers, community leaders and those concerned about a loved one who is suicidal and would like to know more on suicide prevention. We are hosting these free workshops in Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Western Cape.

Also, join our Free Online #FacebookFriday Q&A chat on Friday 24 February 2017 at 1pm with clinical psychologist, Zamo Mbele and again at 7pm with psychologist, Candice Cowen. Both experts will be available for an hour to answer questions on teen depression, preventing suicide, recognizing various warning signs and where to seek help to prevent suicide.

School suicide prevention programmes that address mental health and coping skills in response to depression, anxiety, stress, bullying, aggression, substance abuse, sexual abuse and trauma are most likely to succeed in the long-term.

SADAG’s programme creates a heightened awareness of suicide prevention; provides schools with available resources to help teens at risk and improve teachers’ and learners’ ability to cope.

SADAG’s helpline can be reached 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm on 0800 567 567 or visit www.sadag.org

Warning signs to look out for:

  • A suddenly deteriorating academic or sport performance
  • Fixation on death
  • Unhealthy peer relationships
  • Volatile mood or a sudden change in personality
  • Risk-taking behaviours
  • Abusive or dysfunctional family environment
  • Eating disorder, self-harm
  • Bullying
  • Neglecting personal hygiene and appearance
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Social isolation
  • Frequent absenteeism

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