Life After High School…Written by Tamra Bunting
“The average high school kid today, has the same level of anxiety
as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950’s”
As a student one is often asked “What are you so stressed for? Its only high school!” but In South Africa 9% of teens don’t make it out of high school, not because of drop outs, teen pregnancy or gangs but because in the 15-24 age group, suicide is the second leading – and fastest growing – cause of death in our country.
Is it their fault? It must be the friends fault, right? Should we blame the parents or teachers? Honestly, the answer to all those questions is yes.
Parents, I am not here to tell you how to be the perfect parent because there is no such thing BUT there are basic things to keep in mind. Dr Colinde Linda, One prominent Johannesburg psychologist, cautions parents and educators by reminding you that “The physical and social changes that occur during adolescence can be overwhelming and sometimes unresolved conflicts from childhood also surface during this time. A threat of killing oneself is a cry for help”.
Are you hearing their cry? Are you noticing your child’s increased irritability or sadness or do you just chalk that up to a rebellious attitude? Is their loss of interest in normal activities such as school sports or hobbies just an example of their laziness in your eyes? Have you expressed your deep disappointment in them for their sudden drop in academic performance? Yes, there are many factors that result in such actions in a young child but are you paying enough attention to see if it’s a more SERIOUS problem?
Friends, do not stand there with that “Yes, its always their fault” expression because you also have a role to play. Studies indicate that 75% of friends who know that a peer is suicidal will not seek help from an adult because they are concerned with how the adult may react. They think that talking to a parent or teacher will break their friends trust … STOP! If your friend has become withdrawn from your normal social events, complains that they never sleep or all they want to do is sleep, if they seem to be avoiding food or seeking food constantly, or maybe they are just constantly talking about death and the aspect of death or the afterlife... then speak to an adult that you trust. Because yes, two can keep a secret, but what’s the point if one of them ends up dead?
“We cannot measure the value of life cut short by suicide. We cannot
calculate the impact a person might have had on the world around them or
on the people whose lives they may have touched. But through a partnership
between survivors, business and community leaders, scientists and
dedicated individuals we can vanish this needless tragedy” ~ SADAG
Lastly, to those that feel alone, that are losing hope and feel as though there is no-one to turn to for support please know that Roshni Parbhoo was right when she said that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It may not feel like things will get better but there are people out there who can help. Give those around you the chance to at least try and if you feel as though they won’t understand give a friendly, available, trained ‘stranger’ from The Sanctuary a try.
Speak out today! Suicide shouldn’t be a secret!