Teen Suicide is Real: How to Help

The reality is that teen suicide is a hard fact that we have to face, and there is no better time than now.

In South Africa, 9% of all teen deaths are due to suicide – and this figure is on the increase. In the 15-24 age group, suicide is the second leading, and fastest-growing, cause of death. Children as young as 7 have committed suicide in South Africa. Every day 22 people take their lives. Suicide is on the increase, and the question is, why? – SADAG

You should always take someone seriously if they say they want to commit suicide, or that they no longer want to be here, or that the world would be a better place without them. A person may express their desire for suicide in different ways. They may use social media or speak to someone directly.

Some indicators of increased risk:

  • When an overwhelming event has happened
  • If there have been previous attempts
  • If the person starts giving away their stuff
  • If it seems that they have made peace with the idea
  • And of course, if they already have a plan.


If you ask someone whether they have suicidal thoughts or whether they are thinking of trying, you are planting the seed in their heads. This is not true. If you have to ask, you know that help is needed.

People often do not know what to do because they are shocked. You may want to think and decide what you would do if someone told you this.

What can you do to help?

The very first thing is to breathe; take a deep breath, and remember that there are avenues to help. Good advice is always to phone SADAG. They have a call centre that is available 24/7. They know how to help you over the phone and get you to the help that you need. The second thing is to acknowledge the person and what they are feeling and to ask them if there are family members that they have told. Remember that they feel alone. To involve family, for example, gets people involved and starts to make them feel connected. Finally, they need to get to the help they need.

What not to do

Don’t be judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life. It also helps if you can obtain a commitment from the person for a meeting with them in the future. Do not be afraid to offer help if you think that someone may be struggling in this regard.

Are you the one experiencing this?

If you are having these thoughts, almost the same advice applies; take a deep breath, and remember that there are people that love you. Let them know what you’re experiencing and let them help. Finally, call the SADAG hotline:

SADAG – 0800 21 22 23  (8am to 8pm) / 0800 12 13 14  (8pm to 8am) / Or SMS 31393

Written by Joshua McQuirk

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