Struggling with suicide

Statistics from the South African Anxiety and Depression Group (Sadag) reveals more teenagers are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

When a 15-year-old teenager from Strand attempted to take his life at the start of the year on New Year’s Day, he felt overwhelmed, angry, and hopeless.

“I just felt things are too much,” he explains the motive behind this attempt.

Wishing to remain anonymous, he shares more how this had been the second time he attempted to commit suicide. The first time when he was 12 years old.

“In grade 6, I started to feel I am different, so I thought differently than other people and started questioning things in my life. I started asking where is my mother, my father? Why are they not in my life?”

His maternal grandmother raised him. He knew who his mom was, but she was not present in his life, and he has up until this day, not seen his father.

An incident with a bully in his class at school drove him to tears and he ran to the school’s bathroom. “I then just started cutting my wrist with my school scissor, but unbeknown to me, someone from my class was sent to follow me to the bathroom and found me. In that moment I didn’t think of the consequences of what I was doing, I was just tired of being bullied, not having parents and it was a moment of weakness.”

The school called the ambulance, and he was taken to hospital. “When they found me, I was in shock, I cried and was given stitches. The cuts weren’t that deep,” he says as he shows the scars.

He received no psychological treatment or counselling after the first attempt.

The second attempt this year, where he tried to overdose with painkillers, was more about the struggle to accept his sexuality. “I did it because I couldn’t accept myself and thought no one would accept me as I am.”

“I messaged my friend to tell her things have become too much, because it’s not easy to tell your family about your sexuality.” His friend showed up in time to stop him from taking the pills.

“If I could make a choice, I would not have chosen to be this way, but after doing research on this, I realised that I was born this way.”

He spoke to a counsellor at his school after the latest attempt. “I spoke to a teacher at my school, and she spoke to me in a way I will never forget. Her words were, “I am perfect as I am and I was created by God not to please others, but to live out my life, to satisfy myself, so be you for you.”

Things are different now. “Be brave, be bold and be beautiful,” is a motto he lives by now.

Today he has made peace with his sexuality. He speaks out against gender-directed insults and abuse.

“I was tired of people walking over me and I speak out for the voiceless, because there are many children who go through this abuse and tolerate it and I felt why should we tolerate it? We are a minority and look at how we are being murdered. It’s not right.”

Does he think he would ever go back to those thoughts where suicide seems to be the only way out? “It was painful, heartsore at that time, it was one bad day, but I felt the next day would be better.”

“Your teenage years are the years during which you experience the most pain because you feel that there are a few people there for you, or you feel alone.”

“I think a lot of teenagers commit suicide because they feel like there parents don’t hear them.”

“Sometimes you want to talk to them, but then you feel they don’t hear you, or you fear being scold at or being judged.”

“Many children grow up without parents or without one parent. It’s a pain that no one can see.” He urges parents to do research on how to help their child. “Check on your child to find out if they are ok.”

If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag’s) Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or the 24 hour Helpline on 0800 456 789.