Teen suicide came under the spotlight as prevention is highlighted this week as part of an awareness campaign.
“Suicide is an extremely complex subject,” Dimakatso Moitang, a psychologist at the Akeso Arcadia health centre, told the Pretoria East Rekord.
“It is often not possible to attribute suicide to a single event or identifiable cause.”
Moitang said the teenage years could be a stressful and anxious time for many people.
“Some may even experience mental health challenges, such as depression, during this time of transitioning to adulthood.”
Among teenagers there is often a strong correlation between mental health challenges – most commonly depression, conduct or behavioural disorders and substance abuse – and suicide risk.
“Parents, teachers, peers and friends may observe changes in a teenager’s demeanour without realising what these signs could potentially mean.”
Moitang said while people struggling with depression did not necessarily become suicidal, the majority who attempted suicide did have a history of depression.
She said suicidal teenagers may hint that they would not be around much longer, saying goodbyes or speaking as if they intended on “going away”.
“They may give away personal possessions or make attempts to ‘put their affairs in order’.”
“Indications such as these definitely should not be dismissed by adults and loved ones. These are real signs that all is not well. In addition to offering emotional support, it is imperative to seek professional assistance promptly as early treatment can help to prevent the situation from escalating to the point of a potentially imminent tragedy.”
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