Since teens are the most at-risk age group for suicide, here’s what you need to know about helping a depressed teenager…

The death of a child is a parent’s worst nightmare. It must be all the more painful when it’s self-inflicted as parents torment themselves about what they could’ve done to try to save their child’s life.

Modern life is stressful, and despite their seeming nonchalance, South African teens are not going unscathed.

Currently, an 11-year-old boy is fighting for his life in Reiger Park after a suicide attempt related to bullying, a 16-year-old girl from the Vaal attempted to end her life after failing an exam and a Grade 11 learner from Vereeniging passed away after allegedly drinking poison.

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Teens have the highest suicide risk

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), teenagers are the most at-risk age group for suicide.

A 2011 survey estimated that 17,8% of high school pupils had tried to take their own lives.

“Take every suicide mention, threat and attempt seriously. People who have attempted suicide before, if left untreated and unmanaged, are at greater risk of attempting or completing a suicide,” says SADAG’s Director Cassey Chambers.

How to #ACT when you have a depressed teen

This Teen Suicide Prevention Week (16 – 23 February 2020), SADAG want parents, loved ones and teachers to know how to #ACT when it comes to preventing teen suicide.

#ACT stands for ask, care and treat. It is a call to encourage early intervention when someone is depressed and may be at risk of suicide.

  • Ask – Ask directly: “Are you experiencing suicidal thoughts?”, “Have you ever thought of hurting yourself”, “Have you ever felt like you don’t want to live anymore?”
  • Care – Listen without judgement. Show that you care.
  • Treat – Get your child or friend immediate assistance, be it a trusted adult, teacher or mental health professional (a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker) for treatment. Alternatively, call SADAG on 0800 567 567/0800 21 22 23 or sms 31393 for advice.

If you want to learn more, SADAG are hosting an online #FacebookFriday chat on suicide prevention and teen depression with clinical psychologists, Daniella Matthews and Curwyn Mapaling on 21 February from 1pm – 2pm and from 7pm – 8pm.

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For more information on Teen Suicide Prevention Week, visit

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.