This week from 11-18 February is Teen Suicide Prevention Week. On reflection of the events our country has witnessed over the past year, it is clear that our children and teens need better mental health care and support. Last year, an 8-year-old pupil in Mpumalanga took his own life while at school, a 12-year-old pupil from Highlands North used her scarf to commit suicide and a 19-year-old student reportedly jumped to her death at the Wits Braamfontein campus in Johannesburg.
These are just a few of the heart-breaking suicides which took place last year. In our country, it is estimated that 9,5% of all non-natural teen deaths are a result of suicide. Additionally, hundreds of suicide attempts occur every 24 hours. Teen suicide is becoming more common every year in South Africa. In fact, only car accidents and homicide kill more youth between the ages of 15 and 24.
“You don’t have to be a mental health professional to reach out to people who may be thinking about suicide. Encouraging a teen who may be thinking of taking their life to share what is going on inside of them, and then truly listening with compassion and genuine concern can be incredibly helpful for those who’ve lost hope.”