In South Africa about 10 000 people commit suicide annually and many of these are young people. In addition it is estimated that 20% of children in South Africa suffer from a mental illness due to the high levels of violence and family problems. This situation is being intensified in the Northern cape area due to extreme poverty, unemployment, retrenchments and HIV/Aids.
It is for this reason that the South African Depression and Anxiety Support Group recently visited Kimberley, as part of their national rural tour to promote depression awareness and suicide prevention among the youth.
This education and empowerment programme sponsored by the Department of Health, targeted youth from different schools, community organisations and youth groups. The objective was to equip the youth with skills to deal with problems in a more constructive way that will lead to them not taking their own lives. The group also helped to improve access to care for teenagers and young adults with behaviour and mental problems.
The support group also addressed local community leaders such as teachers, nurses, social workers, police and prison officials, about how to recognise, counsel and assist these individuals. Issues that were addressed include where to get help, how to help peers and colleagues, different forms of crisis intervention, stress management, problem solving and goal setting techniques.
Finally, programme presenters helped facilitate the formation of support groups to help the survivors of suicide and depression sufferers in this area.