Affinity Health Encourages All South Africans To Support Teen Suicide Prevention Week
With Teen Suicide Prevention week from 18 to 25 February, Affinity Health highlights how suicide destroys lives, how you can encourage your teen to reach out for help without guilt or shame, and possible signs your child needs a helping hand.
Jade Gouws was a bright young teen who tragically took her own life last year November at her family home in Drakenstein, Western Cape. She was just 17 years old. Many others have lost their lives due to suicide. Some make headlines; many others don’t. That’s because suicide-related deaths are often pushed under the rug. Affected families hide in the shadows, humiliated and scared of being judged by society.
Each year in South Africa, teen suicide statistics rise, and recent numbers suggest a spike in the number of cases across our country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
A significant link exists between depression and suicide, according to The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG). Teen depression, most of the time, is a passing mood. Sadness, loneliness, sorrow, and frustrations are feelings we all experience at times and are normal reactions to life’s struggles. Undiagnosed depression can, however, lead to tragedy. Up to one-third of all suicide victims have previously attempted suicide.
“Some people think of depression as an adult condition, but roughly 3% of children experience depression as well. While certain individuals are more at risk than others, suicide can find its way into even the most stable and loving home,” says Affinity Health CEO Murray Hewlett. “It doesn’t discriminate.”
It is essential to recognise the possible symptoms of childhood depression if your child has not openly expressed any suicidal thoughts, as these are often associated with suicidal thoughts.
Affinity Health outlines a few “red flags” parents should keep an eye out:
- If your teen talks about suicide, whether in a joking way or otherwise
- If your teen withdraws from social contact
- If your teen experiences increased mood swings, anxiousness, or agitation
- Sudden changes in your teen’s routine, including their eating or sleeping patterns
- If your teen starts giving away their belongings without any logical explanation
- Problems at school including low energy, poor performance, and concentration difficulties
Talk to your teen immediately if you suspect that he or she might be thinking about suicide. Do not be afraid to use the word “suicide” when speaking to your teen. It won’t plant ideas in their head or make them more inclined to think of taking their life. In fact, it can help them recognise the issue and understand when and how to ask for help.
If you think your teen is in immediate danger, call your local emergency number or a suicide hotline number, such as SADAG on 0800 567 567 or their 24hr Helpline at 0800 456 789.
About Affinity Health
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