9 Nov 2015
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Nearly 10 percent of teenage deaths in SA are by suicide

South Africa Monday 9 November 2015 – 2:25pm Contributors: Bafana Nzimande

BLOEMFONTEIN – It”s a well-known and documented fact that teenagers these days experience more stress and are under more pressure than their predecessors, not least with the advent of social media, and also now particularly at this time of year during exams.

Consequently, the rate of teenage deaths by suicide has risen dramatically.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) said 9.5 percent of teenage deaths in South Africa are caused by suicide and hanging is one of the more common methods used by teens.

Sadag operations director Cassey Chambers said 21.4 percent of the country’s teenagers have considered suicide and females attempt suicide more than males.

“Nearly 1 in 5 South African teens have attempted suicide. Some of the most common contributing factors can be family problems, relationships issues, undiagnosed or untreated depression, learning difficulties or death of a loved one.

Earlier this year, fourteen-year-old Johannesburg school pupil Klara Göttert, daughter of a high profile businesswoman, fell to her death from the roof of the Northgate Mall.

In the latest incident, a grade 12 pupil committed suicide in a classroom in Bloemfontein, in the Free State.

Free State Department of Education spokesman Howard Ndaba said the Petunia Secondary School pupil was studying with her peers hours before she was found.

The 18-year-old hanged herself on Friday.

The motive for her action is not yet known. Police do not suspect foul play and have opened an inquest into the case. The department has provided counselling to the school’s pupils and teachers.

“We are greatly disturbed by what happened at Petunia Secondary School. The class was locked. Teachers had to break the door,” Ndaba said.

“The deceased’s mother is a teacher at the school and she was at the school on the day of the incident. ”

One can only imagine the pain she is going through. The department will continue to assist the family and the school were possible. Funeral details will be known late Monday,” Ndaba added.

Sadag has urged parents and guardians to “act immediately” if they suspect a child may be contemplating suicide.

“Sudden behaviour change, withdrawal, change in eating patterns, change in sleeping patterns, unusual preoccupation with death and moodiness are some of the common warning signs,” said Chambers.

Sadag has a dedicated helpline offering pupils free telephonic counselling 7 days a week: 0800 41 42 43.

Individuals seeking help can also SMS 31393 and a counsellor will call them back.

– eNCA