Teen Suicide Prevention Week – Feb 11 -14

February 2018

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Teen Suicide Prevention Week

Next week is Teen Suicide Prevention Week (11-18 February 2018) and with 1 in 4 South African teens who have attempted suicide – it is crucial we create awareness around teen depression and suicide prevention.

More recently, we have seen reports in Press and Media of children as young as 6 years old who have committed suicide. This week there were reports of an 8 year old girl who died from suicide in Durban.

SADAG is focusing on raising awareness amongst teens, children, teachers, parents and communities to help prevent Teen Suicide.

Our “Teen Suicide Shouldn’t be a Secret” School Team will be visiting schools in Roodepoort and Centurion amongst others.
SADAG is hosting a FREE Online Facebook Friday chat on Friday, 16th Februarywith experts answering all questions on Teen Depression, warning signs and Suicide Prevention. See below for more details.
Click here for the Teen Suicide Prevention Posters advertising the Suicide Helpline number. Print it and put it up at your school, community, taxi rank, campus, workplace, church, etc. Or nominate a school and send their details to [email protected]
Go to www.sadag.org to see out ONLINE TOOLKIT which includes practical tips on what to say/not to say to a depressed teen, warning signs, etc. As well as online expert videos, adverts, posters and infographics of stats.
You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@The SADAG) for more info, posters and useful tips to help us #StopTeenSuicide
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Free Online Help for Teen Suicide Prevention Week #FacebookFriday

1 in 4 South African teens have attempted suicide. It is important for all parents, teachers & friends to know the warning signs of Teen Suicide, how to talk about Depression and how to get help. Join the #FacebookFriday Teen Suicide Prevention Online Q&A on the 16th February at 1pm – 2pm and again at 7pm – 8pm. Ask our experts, Educational Psychologist, Tshepiso Matentjie and Psychologist, Cindy Van Wyk, for advice, tips and how to help your teen. Click here for more information and like our Facebook Page: The South African Depression and Anxiety Group.

SADAG – Let’s Talk about Depression this World Health Day 7th April

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Let’s Talk about Depression this World Health Day 7th April

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SADAG joins the Global Conversation

World Health Day is celebrated on the 7th of April to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation. This year’s theme is “Depression: Let’s Talk”.
About 1 in 6 South Africans suffer from Depression – although only about a quarter of suffers ever seek or receive treatment. Depression is the leading cause of Suicide in South Africa, with 23 completed Suicides every day – and a further 460 attempted suicides every 24 hours.
It may not always be easy to tell the difference between a run-of-the-mill bad mood and Depression. If you have five or more of the symptoms below for most of the day, nearly every day, they persists for at least two weeks, and the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily activities, you may have depression. Click here for more information.

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Online Videos

Be on the look out for a variety of new and informative online videos that SADAG has made available. We have actress and ambassador, Lilian Dube talking about Depression. You will also be able to gain some vital information about how to manage your Depression from Clinical Psychologist, Zamo Mbele and gain better understanding of Depression in the Elderly from Psychiatrist, Dr Chabalala. There are useful videos on how to start and manage a Support Group from Lara and Shelagh, respectively. These videos will be available on our website, www.sadag.org on Friday the 7th April.


Facebook Online Chat – 7th April

SADAG is giving people throughout the country access to free help via our Facebook Online Q&A Chat #FacebookFriday on “Let’s Talk: Depression” this Friday, 7 April from 1 – 2pm with Psychologist Liane Lurie. She runs her own private practice based at Akeso in Parktown, Johannesburg. She works with individuals, families, children and adolescents and focuses on areas such as depression, bullying, anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders. We will have another chat again at 7-8pm with Psychologist, Linda Blokland, based at Weskoppies, her focus areas are Depression, Anxiety, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Eating Disorders, Family Therapy and Relationships.
Join the chat and ask experts any questions that you have about Depression, its diagnosis, symptoms, treatment plans, how to speak to a loved one, what to do and where to get help. For more information about the chat click here or to go directly to our Facebook page click here. Facebook Users that would like to remain anonymous can send a private message with their questions as well as email their questions to [email protected] and SADAG will gladly ask the question on their behalf.


Twitter Chat at 1pm – 2pm

Focusing on this year’s theme for World Health Day “Let’s Talk: Depression” – SADAG is hosting a LIVE Tweet Chat. This is a live Twitter event, usually focused around a general topic and aligned with this year’s theme, we will be engaging with Twitter users who would like to ask questions and know more about Depression with experts sharing help, info & tools to help understand & cope with Depression. The chat will take place from 1pm – 2pm on Friday 7 April 2017, to join the conversation all you need to do is tweet during the designated time using the hashtag #DepressionZA and follow us on Twitter @TheSADAG.


Support Groups Workshops

SADAG has over 200 Support Groups nationwide, for mental health patients, as well as their loved ones, a place of warmth, understanding and support. Support Groups are run either by members who have experienced mental health issues, or professionals working in the community wanting to help others. These Support Groups allow members the opportunity to form connections with others who have experienced similar challenges. Running a Support Group is an incredibly rewarding experience and highlights the important role each of us can play in our community.

If you want to start your own Support Group, SADAG is hosting Support Group Leader Training Workshops in KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape on the 19th-21st April, and in the Eastern Cape in May. This training is to help train Leaders on how to get started and how SADAG can support them. If you are interested in starting your own Support Group, and want to learn more about it, please email Lara on [email protected].

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Let’s Talk Depression in Diepsloot

In Diepsloot where we have the free Counselling Container, we will be holding several activities. My Family Africa (NGO) are hosting a talk on Depression at a Support Group with Chronic illnesses on 5th April at 9am. A Depression Awareness Day is being hosted by the Community Policing Forum (CPF) on the 6th Aprilat the Diepsloot Mall at 10am. At 9am on the 6th April, Counsellors will be hosting a Depression Awareness Day for Nurses and patients at the O.R.Tambo Clinic in Extension 2. Also, don’t miss the talk on Depression with Support Group leader, Thuli, at the O.R. Tambo Clinic. There is a Community Dialogue on Depression at the Skills Centre in Extension 2, on the 7th April at 10am. Members from Youth Organisations such as Afrika Tikkun and Diepsloot Youth Projects are participating. Contact Anne or Lara on 0800 21 22 23 for more information.


For World Health Day we are highlighting Depression and destigmatizing Mental Health. SADAG offers free telephone counselling 7 days a week, and gives referrals nationwide.

Teen Suicide Prevention Week FEB 18 – 25

The beginning of the year is an especially hard time for many teens. With exam results, their future into adulthood looming and the myriad of stress that comes with being a teenager. SADAG understands this and in the teen suicide prevention week, they along with partners are offering many workshops and tools to help those that need.



Teen Suicide Week Tool Kit

To download the material please click this link to go to the NCDs Knowledgebase to find all the files.



Mental Health – A Glaring Light on 36 Deaths in Gauteng- Comment

stx-depressionThe sad and disturbing deaths of 26 mental health patients during relocation to another facility.  Bringing the total of mentally disabled deaths in Gauteng to 36 over recent months.

The Department of Health has launched an investigation into the deaths stating that the cause and appropriate people responsible are to be held accountable for the tragedy of some of some of our societies most venerable people.

We want to know why the money was pulled and what the department and the province is going to do to take action against this deplorable state of mental health in Gauteng.


This article was originally published by Bhekisisa, the Mail & Guardian’s Centre for Health Journalism. To read more health stories from across Africa, go to bhekisisa.org

Life Esidimeni patient deaths are a wake up call that came too late

South Africa is reeling from the news that 36 mental healthcare patients have died since March after they were relocated from Life Healthcare’s Esidimeni facility to nongovernmental organisations in Gauteng.

The question many are asking is: “How could something like this happen?”

The question we should be asking is: “Why did it take 36 deaths before anyone reacted to this tragedy?”

In October last year, the South African Federation for Mental Health issued a statement expressing concerns about Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu’s  announcement that the provincial government would be terminating its contract with private hospital group Life Healthcare. As part of this, almost 2 000 patients at Life Esidimeni would be discharged or moved to various community-based NGOs. This would take place between October 2015 and March 2016. No prior preparation seemed to have taken place.

The reasons for our concern were simple: there were not enough community NGOs to absorb such a large number of patients. Mental health NGOs that did offer residential facilities were already full and their resources overstretched. Many of the residents of Life Esidimeni needed high-level, specialised care. Even if organisations did have beds available, the NGOs approached to take the patients in did not, in most instances, have the staff or resources to provide this.

The family members of the patients held a march to protest against the relocation. The federation, along with public interest law organisation Section27, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group and the South African Society of Psychiatrists, approached the Johannesburg high court for an interdict to stop the relocations until better provisions had been made.

This failed and the relocations continued.

Then family members began to say that they had not been told where patients had been moved to and that patients were dying after being moved out of the Life Esidimeni facilities.

And now we find ourselves here. It has taken the deaths of 36 vulnerable people for the government and society to wake up and realise that something is wrong with the way we treat mental healthcare users.

The deaths are a disgrace and raise questions about whether the value of human life is being placed at the centre of decisions about where to cut costs.

Mental health has not been a priority in the general health agenda or budgets. The 2015 Rural Mental Health Campaign report notes that there has never been any systematic tracking of mental health expenditure. Only three of the nine provinces were able to report mental health care budgeting in a 2007 World Health Organisation report, which may offer the most comprehensive data available. At the time, the Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and the North West spent an average of about 5% of health budgets on mental health care, largely on specialised psychiatric facilities.

It is not surprising that, when budgets need to be cut, mental health is often the first to be put on the chopping block, although we know that these service users are among the most vulnerable.

People living with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities are often marginalised because of the stigma and discrimination attached to these conditions. This stigma and discrimination frequently leads to human rights violations. In a 2013 federation surveyconducted among 140 mental health service users, 50% of those surveyed in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape reported being emotionally, verbally or physically abused. A large number of those experiencing human rights violations don’t report it or don’t know how to. Others who do report abuses often find authorities unresponsive.

In response, the federation has implemented its Mental Health Watch reporting system, which allows people living with mental illness and their families to report abuses by SMS, WhatsApp, email and post.

The South African Human Rights Commission had been made aware of the Life Esidimeni victims’ plight before the deaths but remained silent while healthcare service users’ constitutional rights were being threatened.

Despite assistance offered by the federation and others to ensure the Esidimeni patients’ transitions were conducted in a dignified, patient- centred manner, the Gauteng department of health implemented the relocations with little to no consultation and with no respect for the rights of these individuals or consideration of their vulnerability.

It took the deaths of so many people to act as a wake-up call for action. It is paramount that mental healthcare users or persons with mental disability be involved in decision-making or supported decision-making about all aspects of their lives. As far as possible, service users must make their own decisions. In instances where a per- son is unable to participate in mak- ing a decision, a caregiver or support person should respond on behalf of the person.

The disability sector’s slogan “Nothing about us without us” must always be applied.

Our society needs to focus on the protection and wellbeing of the individuals who once called Life Esidimeni their home to ensure that the places they are moved to can also be called home — where they can be happy, loved, cared for and safe.

The fate of the remaining Life Esidimeni patients now lies in the hands of duty bearers legally obligated to protect their rights and prevent more deaths.

Charlene Sunkel is the advocacy and development programme manager of the South African Federation for Mental Health. Marthé Viljoen heads the federation’s awareness and information programme.





Discovery Health Commits R1 Million To SADAG Suicide Helpline

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) suicide helpline was on the verge of shutting down in January and the first half of February due to a lack of funds.

The suicide helpline takes in roughly 400 calls per day for people with thoughts or contemplating suicide. The running costs of phone lines alone can run to R60, 000 per month this excluding the tireless work the operators put into the service.

With the clock counting down and time seemingly not on the side of the vital service, a true act of kindness came in. Discovery Health committed R1 million to the support of the service. This was after pleading call and interview on 702 Talk Radio.

CEO of Discovery Health Jonathan Broomberg noted that the suicide helpline played a vital and important role in the healthcare system of South Africa. Showing the companies support for the work done by SADAG through this service.

The donation will see the helpline stay open for at least another year. This means that approximately 145, 600 people will be helped and received that vital support when it is needed most. One in three South Africans suffer from depression with that figure said to be on the rise. The helpline play a vital role in the mental health of all South Africans.