The Post / 4 November 2018, 11:00am / JANINE MOODLEY
Durban - Depression has been at the root of suicide in Phoenix, with an estimated 15 teenagers ending their lives over the past 10 months.
The startling revelation emerged during a teen suicide prevention campaign in the suburb on Sunday.
Community activist Pastor Mervyn Reddy, whose daughter Kaylene, 16, hanged herself seven months ago, said the campaign was aimed at giving children hope.
“We wanted to host a conversation with youth and parents to drive home the harsh and painful reality of suicide. These are conversations that are necessary and relevant, considering the alarming suicide rate in South Africa.”
Reddy said a troubled teenage girl, who attended with her mother, had reached out to them after the event.
She asked that the programme’s co-ordinator and Megazone radio presenter CJ Benjamin and members of Angels Vent counsel her. “We believe she left with a new sense of purpose.”
Reddy’s wife Michelle spoke candidly about the death of their daughter, saying exhaustion from her work took priority over her child.
“There were times when Kaylene would come up to me and say, ‘Mum, I need to talk to you’,” but I just wanted to shut off in the evenings. Maybe if I had just listened she would be alive today.”
She said her daughter had spoken to friends before she committed suicide, and she wished they had confided in her.
Kaylene’s sister found her hanged with her school tie at their Palmview home.
Pravin Ramdeo’s daughter, Micayla Ria Maharaj, 13, also ended her life. She was found by her sister in her bedroom on October 8.
“After Kaylene’s death, I told Micayla that if anything was worrying her, she should speak out. If only we saw the signs, she would still be here today.”
In South Africa, suicide by hanging is the most frequently used method, followed by shooting, gassing and burning; with 60% of people suffering from depression.
eThekwini Municipality deputy mayor Fawzia Peer said one should never underestimate the power of intervention.
“No child chooses to be depressed, and most parents become too busy and forget about their children. Find the time to sit and talk to your children. They need your love and attention.”
Psychologist Jay Naidoo said depression was the second biggest cause of death in the world, and it was vital for parents not to judge their children.
“Listen openly and ask questions. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
Simphiwe Mbatha, a second-year engineering student at the Durban University of Technology, spoke about her battle with depression.
She said that due to her charismatic personality, many had not known she was depressed.
“But the depression kicks in when you are alone with your thoughts.”
She said suicide should never be an answer.
“When you die you take a piece of someone else with you.”
The Facebook page Angels Vent was started by Kaylene’s friends Monique and Marrist Gounden, with the assistance of Michelle, who can be contacted on 078 118 3233.