Teen suicide prevention week 11-18 February 2021

Feb 9, 2021

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers in the 15-19 age group

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers in the 15-19 age group.

Cassey Chambers, SADAG’s operations director, says suicide is still a taboo topic in our society; no-one wants, or knows how, to talk about it. In South Africa, there are twenty-three recorded suicides a day and for every suicide, there are a further twenty attempted suicides.

Among teenagers, suicide attempts may be associated with feelings of stress, self-doubt, the pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, disappointment, loss, bullying and isolation (COVID-19). For some teens, suicide may appear to be a solution to their problems. Risk factors for suicide among the young include the presence of mental illness such as anxiety and depression.

In fact, ninety percent of teens who die by suicide have had an underlying mental health issue that was not addressed. Seventy-five percent of those who commit suicide have given a warning before.

Other contributing factors include alcohol and drug abuse, exposure to violence, abuse or bullying, the availability of firearms in the home and major disruption in their lives, such as COVID-19.

Instead of self-reflection and communication, young people sometimes rush to respond to their problems, with tragic consequences. Parents and their children need to be educated on the importance of mental health and how to recognise the signs of suicidal thoughts amongst teens.

Commit to listening and talking, thereby reducing the risk of teens dealing with depression on their own. Suicide must never be silent and secretive.


  • Address depression and anxiety
  • Listen, pay attention and never shrug off threats of suicide
  • Discourage isolation
  • Safely store firearms, alcohol and medication


  • Increased irritability
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in school performance
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Appetite disturbances
  • Physical complaints
  • Poor hygiene

Teenagers who hurt or cut themselves aren’t necessarily suicidal. Self-harm is a way of coping with anxiety and depression. This is extremely unhealthy and signals the need for the help of a mental health professional.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The more you know about depression and suicide the more you can help.

Here are some things you can do if you are thinking about suicide:

  • Tell someone right away – a friend, a parent, a teacher – or call SADAG 0800 567 567 or SMS 31393 open 7 days a week 08:00 to 20:00
  • Make sure you are not alone
  • Don’t use alcohol or drugs
  • Ask family to lock away knives, ropes, pills and guns
  • Spend time with family and friends, even though you probably want to be alone – withdrawing and isolating yourself is not a good idea.
We cannot put too high a value on each life saved from suicide. All suicide threats and attempts must be taken seriously!

Contact Ruleen for more information or a referral. 082 782 0287


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