These days teenagers and adolescents are faced with different challenges. Previous generations never had to deal with the rapid advancement in technology and the resulting consequences.
There is currently a global increase in teenage depression, anxiety and suicide. Caregivers must know what to look out for and where to get help.
According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 800 000 people die by suicide every year. That’s an average of one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds globally. In South Africa, 9% of all teenage deaths are due to suicide and the numbers are increasing.
Panic attacks and anxiety disorders are more than just feeling nervous or worried. Although it may be a short period of intense fear accompanied by different physical symptoms, it can have an impact on your quality of life.
According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), the following may be warning signs of suicide in teenagers:. Depression, talking or joking about suicide, self-criticism, preparing for death by giving away things and/or saying goodbye, drastic personality changes, not taking an interest in appearance or there’s a drop in personal hygiene, risk taking behaviour such as using drugs, drinking and driving, unprotected sex, writing poems, essays or painting/drawing images of death or suddenly feeling better. This could mean they may have decided to commit suicide, set a date for their suicide and they know that their pain will soon end.
When you’re thinking about suicide you can do the following:. Tell someone immediately. This could be any person you trust, such as a parent or teacher. Call Sadag on 0800 567 567 or SMS 31393.
Make sure you’re not alone, don’t use alcohol and/or drugs, ask your family to lock away/hide knives, medication, rope, firearms – anything that can be used to self-harm.
You may feel you just want to be alone, but withdrawing and isolating yourself from the people who care about you isn’t a good idea. Keep pictures of your favourite people or pet(s) with you.
Not all teenagers with depression attempt suicide, but the majority of those who do are. Depression affects your thoughts, moods and body, and is treatable, and 80% of those who seek treatment get better.
All threats or attempts to commit suicide should be taken seriously. In 75% of all suicides the person had given some warning or made their intention known to a loved one.
Risk factors for suicide:. Bullying, family problems, violence, emotional and/or sexual abuse, relationship problems, substance abuse, previous attempts of suicide, ill health or disease, a family history of suicide or depression.
How to help someone who’s suicidal:. Be a willing and active listener; if you notice any behavioural changes or warning signs, ask what’s troubling them. If there are signs of depression, ask whether they’re considering suicide.
Don’t argue anyone out of suicide. Let them know you care and understand, and they‘re not alone. Make them aware suicidal feelings are temporary, depression can be treated and problems can be solved.
Never say, “You have so much to live for” or that “suicide will hurt your family”.
If there’s an immediate danger of suicide, take the person to their nearest clinic and don’t leave them alone until help is available. Remove dangerous objects that can be used in a suicide attempt.
Where to get help: South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), Suicide Crisis Line: 0800 567 567, Mental Health line: 011 234 4837, contact a counsellor at Lifeline Western Cape 021 461 1111, or WhatsApp: 063 709 2620 or Email: email@example.com
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