There has been an increasing number of suicides among young people in South Africa. Statistics show that suicide is the second most common cause of death in people aged 15 to 29, and children as young as six have considered suicide.
According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), an estimated 23 suicides and a total of 460 attempted suicides take place every day in South Africa, and 9% of all teen deaths are due to suicide – and this figure is on the increase.
In 2021, Sadag received over 74 000 calls to its helpline since the beginning of this year, showing young adults more prone to suicidal thoughts.
The Deputy Director of the SA Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH), Leon de Beer, explained that while there is no absolute reason for the high rates of suicide among young people in South Africa, some contributing factors may include: loneliness; bullying; academic pressure; and high rates of underlying mental illnesses; a history of childhood sexual or physical assault and or violence.
According to LGBTQI activist and Cino Shearer from the CS Foundation, young people who consider suicide might have an underlying and untreated mental health condition.
“Usually depression, anxiety, trauma or have suffered loss,” he says.
“Many young people living with depression do not choose to take their lives and need medical help as depression is treatable and, in some cases, preventable.”
“There are many reasons for young people to have suicidal thoughts, such as suffering recent loss, sadness, anxiety, fatigue, trauma, bullying, abuse, and many other reasons,” he adds.
Young author, Siyavuya Mabece (10) recently published her book, Enough! Stop Bullying where she tackles the issue of bullying and how it has led to many young people taking their own lives and finding life unbearable. She teaches her peers about how to identify bullying, how to stop it when you are a bully – how it affects those around you, and how everyone can play their part in stopping bullying as it contributes to mental health.
Who to call when you need help:
Suicide Crisis Line
0800 567 567
SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837
Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit 24 Hour
0861 435 787
Cipla Whatsapp Chat Line
(9am-4pm, 7 days a week)
076 882 2775
24 hour Healthcare Workers Care Network Helpline
0800 21 21 21
0800 515 515
Dr Reddy’s Help Line
0800 21 22 23
Cipla 24hr Mental Health Helpline
0800 456 789
Pharmadynamics Police &Trauma Line
0800 20 50 26
Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline
0800 70 80 90
0800 55 44 33
Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Line 24hr helpline
0800 12 13 14