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Literacy is a luxury that many of us take for granted. That is why SADAG created SPEAKING BOOKS and revolutionized the way healthcare information is delivered to low literacy communities.

The customizable 16-page book, read by local celebrity audio recordings, ensures that vital health and social messages can be seen, heard, read and understood by everyone across the world.

We started with books on Teen Suicide prevention , HIV, AIDS and Depression, Understanding Mental Health and have developed over 100+ titles, such as TB, Malaria, Polio, Vaccines for over 45 countries.

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Exam Stress and Teen Suicide - The Causes and Cures.

The Depression and Anxiety Support Group held a public meeting at the Sandton Library on Tuesday the 8th June 2000, with guest speakers Colinda Linde and Wendy Sinclair, that dealt with exam stress and teenage suicide.

Colinda Linde, a clinical psychologist who specializes in stress management, informed people how to recognise the imbalance caused by stress and what to do to rectify the situation. She defined stress as occurring when the “perceived demands are greater then the coping resources”. Stress creates an imbalance in our lives and impairs our functioning. Symptoms include: irritability; mood swings; lowered performance; sleep disturbance; irrational, negative thoughts; and increased autonomic arousal (rapid breathing, increased heart rate). There are different types of stress, for example: chronic stress, like an illness, that remains constant throughout time; perennial stress, like exams, that occur periodically; and hassles, little things that when piled up can be even worse than one main stressor.

Colinda illustrated some practical solutions to reduce stress:

v When we are stressed, we lose vital minerals and vitamins and, therefore, these should be replenished by healthy eating and taking a multi-vitamin.

v Exercise! Excess energy created by stress should, rather than being kept inside, be channeled into our muscles.

v Our social support structures (family and friends) should be utilised for emotional as well as practical support, companionship and advice, talking about our emotions is an important way to distress.

v What we think has a very real effect on how we feel and when stressed we become irrational and negative. We can change our thoughts by looking at the actual facts of the situation; looking for real evidence of what we believe to be true and by looking at all the alternatives.

v It is vital to plan what we’re going to study (what, when) and to be realistic about it. It is also necessary to take regular breaks - we cannot hold too much information without breaks. Colinda suggested a routine of 40-50 minutes of study, 10 minutes break; 40-50 minutes of study, 10 minutes break; 40-50 minutes of study, 30-45 minutes break.

Colinda concluded by saying that some stress is always necessary for functioning but that this need not become excessive or destructive.

Wendy Sinclair, an educational psychologist, spoke about teen suicide - the possible causes, warning signs, and what can be done.

The teen years are tumultuous and difficult and it is normal for teenagers to feel angry and frustrated. Wendy distinguished between males and females in that boys direct their anger outwards whereas girls direct it inwards; boys act out and become aggressive whereas girls become quiet and reflective; more males commit suicide whereas more females threaten suicide.

Wendy pointed out some possible causes of suicide amongst teenagers: abuse in the home; a break-up of an important relationship; social isolation.

Warning signs include: persistently depressed mood; eating and sleeping disorders; social withdrawal and increased isolation; statements or comments that hint at suicide (e.g. how many tablets would someone have to take to kill themselves?); plan of action; history of previous attempts. Wendy warned that if a teenager talks about suicide, they must always be taken seriously.

In the event of a crisis, Wendy gave some suggestions. Firstly remove the person from any possible danger (weapons, pills); arrange for professional help as soon as possible; be empathetic - listen to the person; focus on the positive, the teen’s strengths and reasons for living.

Wendy concluded by saying that teen suicide is preventable and we all need to be more aware of teen stressors and warning signs.

 

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