By Emsie Martin
All of us have at some time or another felt a bit depressed and for many the festive season is also alone time; loneliness can send a person over the edge of depression. In South Africa 60% of people who consider suicide are depressed.
What can you do when someone you know shows such tendencies?
Most important is to recognise the danger signs. Look for:
- A drastic change in the person’s personality.
- No longer interested in hobbies.
- Drastic weight loss or gain.
- The person’s sleeping pattern changes.
- Feeling of worthlessness and guilt.
- He/she neglects his/her appearance and hygiene.
- Constantly sad.
- Finds it difficult to concentrate.
- Alcohol or drug abuse.
- Displays aggressive or destructive behaviour.
Just because someone shows one of these symptoms, it does not mean that the person will commit suicide. Most of the time no-one notices these symptoms and the person is just viewed as being moody.
It is better to talk about this to the person openly. If someone has talked about suicide previously it should be taken seriously; most people who talks about suicide will try to do so at some time or another. A third of teenagers who commit suicide have tried to do so previously. Women try it mostly, but men are more successful.
Why do teenagers commit suicide?
The reasons for this differ greatly, but there are some who stand out:
- A big disappointment.
- Break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Failing a big test or exam.
- Family problems.
How can you help?
- Listen and talk to the person about his/her feelings.
- Make it clear that you care.
- Don’t just assume that people who talk about suicide won’t do it.
- All suicide threats should be taken seriously.
- An estimated 80% of people who commit suicide, talked about it previously to a family member or friend.
- A big misconception that people have is that when you talk to a person about it, you make it worse. It helps people to talk about their feelings and thoughts.
- If you are honest when you talk to a person, it shows that he/she can trust you with his/her feelings.
- Someone who has such tendencies must talk to a professional person immediately.
- Don’t believe that someone who has tried to commit suicide before and received aid is better. Keep the lines of communication open. He or she will probably try again.
Contact numbers for help:
Cipla 24hr Mental Health Helpline
0800 456 789
Pharmadynamics Police &Trauma Line
0800 20 50 26
Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline
0800 70 80 90
0800 55 44 33
Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Line 24hr helpline
0800 12 13 14
Suicide Crisis Line
0800 567 567
SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837
Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit 24 Hour
0861 435 787