Communication the key to preventing teen suicide. Picture: Pexels
Cape Town – At least 600 troubled South Africans turn to the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) for assistance each day.

This week, Sadag has turned its focus on teenagers, as it commemorates teen suicide awareness week.

Sadag runs the national toll-free suicide crisis helpline, which takes a huge number of calls from teens who are calling for themselves or on behalf of a friend.

“This suicide call centre has already saved hundreds of lives.

"Throughout Teen Suicide Prevention week, Sadag will be raising awareness through school talks, online content and Facebook Friday online chats,” said the organisation.

Sadag said awareness not only encourages teens to come forward, but also helps inform them where to go for help in their community and how to contact the call centre.

“Skilled counsellors support the helplines and encourage teens to get professional help, to talk to an adult they trust, go to a doctor, or talk to a friend or teacher. 

"There is a range of brochures and pamphlets distributed throughout schools to educate students on teen suicide prevention and encourage them to look for warning signs among friends and family members too.”

Sadag said those that contemplate suicide do so because they feel alone and isolated and that no one understood what they were going through or how they felt.

“Changes in life may be upsetting and they may want to escape a difficult problem or situation, or get relief from terrible stress. You may know if your friend or loved one is going through a tough time.”

Sadag said a combination of issues usually coalesced to make the teen feel so overwhelmed that they saw suicide as the only option.

The key contributing factor to suicide is undiagnosed and untreated depression.

Some other triggers, especially among teens, include relationship issues, family problems (divorce, separation, abuse, domestic violence), grief, loss of a loved one, bullying, trauma and illness.

Sadag said the youngest person to commit suicide last year was a six-year-old boy in Seshego. In Durban, an eight-year-old girl committed suicide.

Concerned parents or friends may contact a counsellor at Sadag on 0800 567 567, 0800 212 223 or the 24hr Cipla Mental Health Helpline 0800 456 789 or visit www.sadag.org