Dessy Tzoneva
Dessy Tzoneva

Class of 2019 urged to keep matric anxiety to a minimum

By ASANDA SOKANYILE Time of article published Dec 28, 2019

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THE pressure is mounting for thousands of pupils across the country who sat for their matric exams last month.

The Department of Basic Education will announce the matric results on January 7, which brings with it an increase in anxiety and stress, and in some extreme instances, suicide for distressed pupils who have not performed as well as anticipated.

In 2018, at least 21.8% of pupils failed the national senior certificate.

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), 9.5% of teen deaths in South Africa are caused by suicide, with exam disappointment being a potential trigger.

“There are children who have undiagnosed depression or who undergo a trauma or an experience that makes them more vulnerable, and this can be the final stress that causes them to commit suicide or use drugs,” said Sadag clinical psychologist Dessy Tzoneva.

She urged pupils not to give up if they didn’t do as well in their exams as expected.

“Talk about how you’re feeling. If you are worried about a loved one, get help sooner rather than later,” Tzoneva advised.

Nola Payne, head of faculty: information and communications technology at The Independent Institute of Education, cautioned parents against heightening anxiety levels in their homes in the run-up to exam results.

“Anxious parents and guardians need to take a step back and ensure that their concern over what may come doesn’t escalate tensions in the house.

“The most important thing for both parents and learners having sleepless nights over their results is to not panic,” said Payne.

Speaking to Weekend Argus under anonymity, a 17-year-old Zola Business School pupil said while he was anxious about his matric results, he was unsure how he would react if he failed.

“I don’t know what I will do if my results are not satisfactory. What I do know though is that my parents will be disappointed if I do not pass. High school is stressful, matric even more so, but having to wait for results which will be seen by the whole country is nerve-racking. I guess it is why some take their lives, the pressure of knowing that the disappointment is not only known by you and your family but by a whole lot more other people can get a bit too much,” he said.

According to Department of Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga, it does not keep a record of statistics of how many teenagers commit suicide if they fail.

* For help, contact the Sadag Destiny Helpline for Youth and Students on 0800 41 42 43, or the Sadag suicide line on 0800 567 567.

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