The South African Drug and Anxiety Group (Sadag) said yesterday that in the past they were only asked to counsel high school pupils, but because of the use of smartphones and social media more primary schools were now turning to the organisation for help.
Sadag said in September, three children aged 6, 9 and 12 committed suicide in different parts of the country within the space of two weeks. It said cyberbullies used social media platforms for spreading rumours at a younger age than before because of their easy access to technology.
“Children don’t know they are looking for suicide. They don’t necessarily understand suicide but would look for ways to fall asleep and never wake up because it hurts too much to stay alive,” said Cassey Chambers, the organisation’s spokesperson.
Every day Sadag fields about 600 calls from across the country and from various age groups. According to Chambers, the internet had changed the dynamics of bullying and it was now possible for anyone to be an offender. While there was now more awareness of bullying than in the past, there was still a lot happening at schools and teachers had no idea how to handle the situation.