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Cape Town - With the pressure students face to perform well, news that their scores have not measured up can be a major blow.
Research from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) has shown suicide accounts for 9.5 percent of non-natural teenage deaths.
The pressure to pass matric, with the expectation to attend university and follow a particular career path, can be dangerous for young people.
Kristin Birch, a registered counsellor in Cape Town, said there were signs parents should look out for.
“If a parent feels their child is overly anxious, withdrawn, and ‘out of character’ during the build-up to the release of results, it is important to talk to them about what they are experiencing.”
Patricia Blake, a clinical psychologist, said parents should also consider their own reactions.
“My suggestion would be for parents to be non-critical about results. Try to put them in perspective. Matric can be repeated, it’s not the final word.”
Bronagh Casey of the WCED, said the department released results to schools giving principals time to check for errors.
This advance notice “also gives principals the opportunity to analyse if there will be any major disappointments that could negatively affect learners. In these cases, principals can request counselling support”.
Schools can provide supportive environments for students who travel there for their results, but Blake noted pupils were more likely to check in the newspapers.
Birch said: “What makes it more stressful is the fact that the matriculants receive (the results) in the newspaper, where there is always the possibility of printing errors or complete omissions.
“There is also no guarantee that the matriculants will be in a supportive environment when they discover their marks.”
Blake advised that “students who are very vulnerable should think of someone they can call to look at the results with them”.
Loved ones should provide support, Birch said. “Unconditional support and sensitivity are paramount in helping to make this stressful time a slightly more balanced one; letting the matriculants know there is life after matric and their results, regardless of what they may be.”