Be mindful of suicidal failed matrics‚ KZN health head says
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health on Thursday warned of potential suicides amongst “matric learners who have failed or did not perform well in their examinations”.
The department’s head‚ Dr Sifiso Mtshali‚ “has appealed to society to be less judgemental…and instead find ways to help them”. “In South Africa‚ the average suicide rate is 17.2 per 100000 (8% of all deaths)‚ according to South Africa Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag)‚” a department statement said.
“Suicide due to matric failure is regarded as a contributor to the high rate of suicide among young people in South Africa.”
This‚ Mtshali said‚ was because bad results “may aggravate symptoms for those who are already depressed and some may not have been diagnosed as such”.
As “all suicide threats should be taken seriously”‚ the department issued a list of warning signs‚ including: “talking or joking about suicide‚ depression (identified as loss of interest to things you normally enjoy)‚ preparing for death (such as giving favourite things away)‚ self-criticism and changes in personality‚ such as sudden negative and aggressive behaviour”.
“History has shown us that some matriculants who don’t do well at the exams tend to struggle to cope with the results and end up taking their own lives‚” Mtshali said.
“This is a desperate call for us as civil society‚ parents‚ friends‚ colleagues and government to step in and reaffirm our ubuntu values and commitment.”
The department’s statement ended with a list of Sadag guidelines to help “people who are suicidal”: - Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-fact about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
- Be non-judgmental. Do not debate whether suicide is right or wrong‚ or whether feelings are good or bad. Do not lecture on the value of life.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
- Do not dare him or her to do it.
- Do not act shocked. This will put distance between you.
- Do not be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
- Ask if you may contact a family member.
- Take action. Remove means‚ such as guns or stockpiled pills.
- Do not leave them alone‚ get help from persons specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
- If necessary‚ get in touch with the police on 10111; or the KZN Emergency Medical Services on 10177‚ 112 or 0800005133.