Sudden increase in suicides raise concern

According to the police in Carletonville, a young woman hung herself in West Driefontein on 5 October, and a school boy tragically ended his own life in the same way on Monday.
The communication officer of the police in Fochville, Constable Elsie Tshonte, added that two young people from Kokosi also took their own lives on Monday and Thursday, respectively.
As a result of this sudden increase in suicides, the Herald contacted the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) for more information on how to prevent such unnecessary deaths. According to SADAG’s Ms Kayla Phillips, it is not true that people who talk about suicide will not go through with it. In fact, 75% of people who commit suicide give some warning. This means all suicide threats should be taken seriously, and friends or family members can do something to stop someone from taking their life.
There are several warning signs that someone may be thinking about sui- cide. Your friend may talk about dying, threaten to kill him- or herself, or say things like “Nothing matters”, or “I wish I was dead” or ”I won’t be around much longer”. A friend or family member may also feel hopeless, lose interest in doing anything, and withdraw from friends and family. Many teens that are planning suicide will give favourite things away or even say goodbye.
A lot of self-criticism, such as a friend saying things like “I can’t do anything right” or “I’m hideous and pathetic”, may mean that they are feeling suicidal. Changes in personality is another warning sign. Someone who is usually sociable may not want to go out or may become negative, aggressive or irritable and may lose their friends. Depressed people can also show a loss of interest in appearance, and a drop in hygiene.
Be concerned if your friend stops caring about what they look like, getting dressed or even bathing or washing. Often people who are feeling suicidal do risky, dangerous things like drink and drive, have unprotected sex or take drugs. They may also show excessive feelings of guilt, self-blame and failure. If someone is depressed, they often feel guilty and blame themselves, and it can be very difficult to talk to them. Be as patient as you can. If you know a friend who has been very depressed and wgi hasn’t had any treatment and who is suddenly “back to normal”, this could be dangerous. It may mean they have set a date for their suicide and know the pain will soon end. Another cry for help is writing poems, essays or SMSs about death.
There are various ways to help a friend or family member.
“If you have a friend who is talking about suicide or showing other warning signs, don’t wait to see if he or she starts to feel better – talk about it. Talking helps in many ways: it allows you to get help for the person; and just talking about it may help the person to feel less alone, less isolated, and more cared about and understood. Talking may also help them see another solu- tion,” says Phillips. There are many things you can do if you are thinking about suicide.
Tell someone right away – a friend, a parent, a teacher, or call SADAG on 0800 567 567 or SMS them at 31393. These services are available seven days a week, from 08:00 to 20:00.
Also, make sure you are not alone. Don’t use alcohol or drugs. Ask your family to lock knives, ropes, pills, and guns away. Keep pictures of your favourite people with you. Spend time with family and friends. Even though you probably want to be alone, withdrawing and isolating yourself is not a good idea. Depression doesn’t mean a person is “crazy”, it is a real medical illness. Just like things can go wrong in your body, things can go wrong in your brain. Luckily, most teens who get help for their depression go on to enjoy life and feel better about themselves.
Don’t keep suicide a secret. Talk about it, get help, and remember that you can fight depression and win.
Those in crisis can call the Suicide Crisis Toll-free number at 0800 12 13 14. Many more resources can be found at www.sadag.co.za

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