Written by Allison Cooper for Vuk’uzenzele Newspaper
As we head into 2021, the matric class of 2020 will be eagerly awaiting their final exam results. While many teens will celebrate this new phase in their life, some could feel alone and isolated if they failed or didn’t do as well as they hoped.
According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), almost one in ten teen deaths in South Africa are caused by suicide. One of the triggers could be exam disappointment.
“Matric is like running an obstacle course and matrics are pushed to their mental, physical and emotional capacities. If they don’t have the right coping skills and support systems, they are more at risk of experiencing mental health challenges,” says Clinical Psychologist Candice Combrinck.
Parents can offer comfort and reassurance to matriculants and that it’s normal to feel disappointment, worry, anger and sadness about their results, says Combrinck.
Teen suicide warning signs
- Depression: Feeling hopeless, losing interest in doing anything and withdrawing from friends and family.
- Talking or joking about suicide: Talking about dying or threatening to kill themselves.
- Preparing for death: Many teens planning suicide will give things away or say goodbye.
- Self-criticism: Saying things like “I can’t do any- thing right.”
- Risk-taking behaviour: Doing risky, dangerous things like having unprotected sex or taking drugs.
- Excessive feelings of guilt, self-blame, failure.
- Suddenly feeling better: If someone you know has been very depressed, haven’t been for treatment and suddenly seem back to normal, it might mean they have set a date for their suicide.
Tips for Teens
Depression can make you feel exhausted, worthless, helpless and hopeless. If you are suffering from depression, try to:
- Understand depression so that you know what you are dealing with.
- Do things to keep your mind busy and things that make you feel better, like exercise.
- Set realistic goals.
- Break large tasks into smaller ones and do what you can.
- Try to be with other people and confide in someone you trust.
- Keep a diary or journal. It’s a great way to get your feelings out.
- Let your family and friends help you.
If you are feeling suicidal:
- Tell someone immediately or call the SADAG Suicide Crisis Helpline.
- Make sure you are not alone.
- Don’t use alcohol or drugs.
- Ask family and friends to lock knives, ropes, pills and guns away.
- Keep pictures of your favourite people with you.
The Department of Basic Education’s Second Chance Matric Support Programme gives you the opportunity to achieve or improve a matric qualification.
Contact the toll-free SADAG Suicide Crisis Helpline at 0800 567 567.