Teen suicide highlighted after Heidedal tragedy & Teenage suicide: perspective by a 15-year-old


Learners, teachers and parents of Petunia Secondary School in Heidedal are still devastated after a matric learner hanged herself in a classroom last Friday. Free State Education's Howard Ndaba says 18-year-old Sharniel Wilson studied at school with a group of friends earlier in the day. She wasn't writing any paper on the day.
This devastating news sent shock waves through Bloemfontein and highlighted the serious issue of teen suicide once again.
The Operational Director for the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, Cassey Chambers, says the suicide statistics in South Africa is very concerning.
"When we look at the suicide statistics in South Africa, one in five teenagers have attempted suicide. 9.5% of teen deaths are due to suicide. It's normally a combination of factors that makes a teenager feel that suicide is the only option. That includes family problems, domestic violence, substance abuse at home, relationship problems, bullying, chronic illness, learning difficulties and financial issues," says Chambers.
Warning signs to look out for:
Be concerned about depressed persons if at least five of the following symptoms have been present nearly every day for at least two weeks:
A depressed mood, change in sleeping patterns, change in appetite or weight.
Speaking or moving with unusual speed or slowness, fatigue or loss of energy.
Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach or guilt, thoughts of death or suicide.
Additional factors that point to an increased risk for suicide in depressed individuals are:
Extreme anxiety, agitation or enraged behaviour, excessive drug and/or alcohol use or abuse, a history of physical or emotional illness, feelings of hopelessness or desperation.
Chambers further says that it is important to ask direct questions and listen to people contemplating the option of suicide.
"It is important to really listen. From there tell them they need professional help. It is not your responsibility to fix that person by yourself. Speak to doctors, teachers, etc. It is important to look out for problems. Don't wait till there is a problem," Chambers concludes. – Mark Steenbok & Cathy Dlodlo

Teenage suicide: perspective by a 15-year-old

Teenage suicide is a reality. It happens every day. The news of yet another teenager having committed suicide spreads like wildfire. It brings a familiar ache to my heart.
Peer pressure and the constant need to fit in can sneak in and take over all the choices you have in life. When nothing in this world is more important than to be what everybody wants you to be.
Suicide is not a new thing, it’s been going on for decades.
We just can’t seem to handle rejection. Is it because we have too much of a low self-esteem or is it simply because we are not equipped, mentally prepared? Psychologists suggest the problem is depression. Can there really be so many depressed teenagers? Do we need another pill on the market to help us survive?
Not so long ago my head was racing with anxiety and my heart constantly throbbing with pain. It’s hard to put into words exactly what I was thinking, how I was feeling during that dreadful period and what drove me to do the things I did. I felt like my world came crashing down all at once, everything just got to a point where I would start questioning my existence. I had to deal with overwhelming emotions colliding within me and a tidal pool of hatred-filled thoughts that would drive anyone to insanity. 
It’s not easy feeling different from everybody else, it's constantly feeling like you are trapped, with no clue on how to get out. I often cried myself to sleep. I remember feeling paranoid and insecure about everything I did. Looking at the mirror, empty eyes, filled with disgust and hatred, would stare back at me. Always concerned about what people would say about me or what rumour they would spread next. I hated everything about myself. Starving myself, sticking my finger down my throat, drinking, smoking. I would attempt anything to take away this numb aching inside me.
My body is shaking, my heart is breaking
My thoughts are slowly overtaking
Fat, stupid, ugly me 
Can you change, pretty please?
No one likes you, just go away
I’m sure no one will miss you, anyway
Just one deep cut and you are free
Just one small bullet and you'll have peace

My mind is evil my heart is sane but I guess my mind has won this game.
My thoughts, the hate, the pain – all got too much until I would sit curled up on my bed or a cold bathroom floor with a blade in my hand, saying to myself, just one more cut. 
The sense of nothingness, the void, the blank, the dysfunctionality, the emptiness and the intense wish to just call it quits.
Each cut, whether it be big or small, would slowly release my heartache and take my focus away from what I call my cruel reality. Some might call me a coward while others might call me strong… but what I call myself, is a confused teenager, trying to cope in this society.
Raised by parents and family who love me, thrown into a dysfunctional world with so many of my peers barely able to breathe, how then am I expected to survive with so much negativity? I was not designed to deal with the reality of all this hatred, rejection and cruelty. I’m just human. 
My past decisions haunt me. I will never be the same. I woke up every morning with a pang of regret in my heart and the urge to just pick up my blade and curl up on my bed – that’s my comfort zone. I had to train myself not to run to my blade every time I hit a bump in the road. After a while this just comes naturally.
Yes, sometimes life can get pretty intense. I’m not going to lie to you. You will sometimes feel like you want to crawl into a hole and die but with the right support and people by your side you can conquer anything.
To all the other teenagers who feel like they are not good enough, you are not alone. The world does not have answers for us. The road ahead is not easy but it is definitely worth it. Surround yourself with positivity. Hold onto the people who love you, who genuinely care about you. When times are tough and days are dark, reach deep into your soul. Remember, the sun will always shine tomorrow. It might sound as a cliché but behind every dark cloud there is a silver lining. You just have to dig deep and find it…your very own happy place. 
The strength is within us. We can overcome. Just breathe. 

Tyra Ismail