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unseen teen killer

With exam season — and the concommitant stress that it brings -almost upon us once again, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) NGO have called for greater awareness around teen suicide. Sadag statistics report that 1 in 4 South African teens have attempted suicide, with 9.5% non-natural deaths in youth directly attributable to suicide. Globally, according to the World Health Organisation, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds, with one person committing suicide every 40 seconds. For every person that dies by suicide, between 10-20 people attempt it. Despite the increasingly concerning rate of teen depression and suicide, most schools don't have counsellors or psycho-social support systems in place. Sadag initiated a schoolbased suicide prevention programme, 'Suicide shouldn't be a secret', that goes class by class to enable pupils to identify symptoms of depression and warning signs of suicide in themselves, their peers and loved ones. The programme additionally tells pupils where to go in their communities for assistance, and how to contact Sadag. Sadag also trains teachers because giving power and advice to first-line responders helps them better cope in suicide crises. Sadag has also helped to establish counselling centres in disadvantaged areas such as townships, which offer free counselling to residents, as well as additional outreach programmes with churches, community groups, the police and clinics. The national suicide prevention crisis line (0800 567 567) is also run by Sadag. This toll-free 15-line service is available everyday, from 8am to 8pm. Depression and suicide cross all racial, gender and socio-economic boundaries —affecting males and females, married and single, wealthy and poor, young and old. Suicide is a preventable tragedy and with appropriate help, treatment, and support, lives can be saved. Through raising awareness of the magnitude and scope of the problem, increasing psycho-social support and providing free counselling to those in need of help, and implementing grassroots suicide prevention strategies, Sadag intends to make a sizeable dent in the problem.