By Anthea Nagoor, Director of Counselling at Focus on the Family Africa
In South Africa there are recorded 23 suicide attempts a day and 1 person commits suicide every 40 seconds globally. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers in the 15-19 age group.
There were 1800 suicides in a 4-month period over lockdown of last year. The province with the most incidents is Gauteng with 482 suicide-related deaths. This is followed by KwaZulu-Natal standing at 392. Western Cape Education Department (WCED) revealed the number of learners who committed suicide at provincial schools had increased five times since 2015.
“COVID-19 has induced a lot of anxiety and depression. So many people are dealing with serious problems every day, from relationships, work stress, unemployment, trauma, grief or financial stress and many of them simply don’t have proper access to mental health treatment or care.”
“Most people that attempt suicide don’t actually want to die. They just want the emotional pain to end.
Suicide is often seen as an ESCAPE and they only way out. There is still a stigma on getting help and that’s the reason behind many suffering in SILENCE. Suicide prevention starts from the time a child is born. There are many factors that can put a person at risk. There are social, biological and environmental roots. A lack of parent involvement and engagement, no nurture or structure , support makes a child feel unsafe and insecure.” Anthea Nagoor, Director of Counselling at Focus on the Family Africa
Nagoor says that according to experts cyberbullying, mental illness, substance abuse, divorce and other difficult home situations, low self-esteem, questions about identity and other issues can adversely affect the will to live for teens whose brains aren’t yet fully developed. Research shows that social media-use is a factor linked to suicidal behavior.
“Domestic violence which is prevalent in South Africa puts many children at a high suicide risk. Studies reveal that those that survived domestic violence have higher rates of suicidal thinking than the rest of us. People who are exposed to violent behaviour in the home are in danger of becoming emotionally scarred. Children living in abusive homes are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, academic struggles, behavioural problems, difficulty sleeping, and all kinds of chronic health issues,” says Nagoor.
Self-care provides a buffer against illness and disease. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy body benefits extend to mood elevation and greater mental alertness, as well as reduced chronic disease risk. This is especially true for young children and teenagers. Stress, which is the great enemy of physical, mental, and emotional health, tends to increase if you don’t keep your mind and body in good condition.
With its mission of “helping families thrive” in mind, Christian ministry powerhouse Focus on the Family has developed a suicide-prevention program called “Alive to Thrive” The program addresses the best defenses against suicide, including issues that make people vulnerable, such as mental health, the impacts of technology, problem behaviors and other facets.
“We’ve seen first-hand, how successful counselling interventions are in directing suicidal people away from the intent to harm themselves and work past their challenges. Remember: people who are contemplating the possibility of taking their own lives often feel relieved that someone cares enough to ask about their feelings,” concludes Nagoor.
For information about our suicide prevention programme: Alive to Thrive or any other resources including articles, books or broadcasts find it at www.safamily.co.za or call the office on 031 7163300