Print

To view original article with images - click here [pdf]

"Depression can affect all members of society, regardless of age, gender or status." This is according to Mr Zamo Mbele, a psychologist for pupils at the Ivory Park Secondary School. He was talking to pupils, teachers and members from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) on Wednesday last week. "Sadly, mental illness is often a taboo issue in many communities and the less people talk about matters like depression, the more at risk their children are for suicide. Young people faced with stressful situations, which includes abuse, rape, family problems, teenage pregnancy, school pressure, bullying or relationship problems, usually attempt or commit suicide because they are feeling trapped and see no other way out. It is important for people to talk about depression, stress and suicide," said Mr Mbele. Local celebrity and Aids ambassador, Mr Hlubi Mboya, and members from the USAID/SHIPP project also attended the event. At the talk, which was titled Teen S uicide Prevention Week, Mr Mbele said many young people, especially boys, think they have to be strong and cope all on their own. "oThey are ashamed to share their hurts and fears, or to take part in any emotional conversations. They keep everything bottled up inside. This emotional burden can lead to teens trying to numb the pain through alcohol and drugs," he added. He said the country cannot afford to lose its future generation because people do not care enough for one another. "It is everyone's responsibility to look out for each other. If you see any signs of depression, speak out as you may just save a life," said Mr Mbele. SADAG trainers spoke to the pupils class by class, reaching out to 42 classes and teachers at the end of the event. Teachers were encouraged to identify pupils who have personal problems. SADAG project coordinator, MsAnne Rajcoomar, said suicide is apemlanent answer to a temporary problem. "We are urging members of the community to help identify young people at risk and to intervene. Speaking about it makes it easier for people access help," she added. Local celebrity and Aids ambassador, Mr Hlubi Mboya, addressing the pupils at Ivory Park Secondary School on Wednesday last week.