What you need to know:
- Suicide is preventable
- Young people who are contemplating suicide frequently give warning signs of their distress
- Parents, teachers, and friends are in a key position to pick up on these signs and find help
Marking the World Mental Health Awareness Week reminded us to pay special attention to our students’ mental health.
This is especially because of the uncertainties and disruptions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most people find it difficult and uncomfortable to have conversations about suicide, and yet global statistics show it is the leading cause of death among school age youth.
With this in mind, teachers, parents and friends need to initiate conversations around this topic, since they are the ones closest to teenagers during their school-going years.
Suicide is preventable. Young people who are contemplating suicide frequently give warning signs of their distress. Parents, teachers, and friends are in a key position to pick up on these signs and find help. It is important to never take these warning signs lightly, or promise to keep them a secret.
Some of the signs to look out for include long-lasting sadness, mood swings and unexpected rage, deep sense of hopelessness, sleep problems, withdrawal from friends or social activities, changes in personality or appearance, dangerous or self-harming behaviour such as drug or alcohol abuse, recent trauma, or life crises such as the death of a loved one, and making preparations and/or threatening or talking suicide.
Some of the parental responsibilities include taking any threats about suicide seriously; following through on support offered by the school; and maintaining regular communication with the school.
Teachers and parents must be motivated to learn, share information, and inspire students towards speaking up whenever they feel overwhelmed.