‘Ta­ke a mi­nu­te, sa­ve a li­fe’

Mossel Bay Advertiser - - Voorblad - Cor­nel­le Car­stens

One is one too ma­ny.

T­he­se words we­re rei­te­ra­ted on Mon­day nig­ht, as con­cer­ned mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty con­gre­ga­ted in the D’Al­mei­da Ci­vic Hall to dis­cuss the a­lar­ming ri­se in sui­ci­de a­mong the youth, one of the la­test victims in Mos­sel Bay being on­ly 11 y­e­ars old.

Be­cau­se of this t­rend, an acti­on com­mit­tee re­spon­si­ble for Mon­day’s meet­ing with the com­mu­ni­ty was es­ta­blis­hed.

Le­ni­se Hen­dricks, who led the pro­cee­dings, her­self ha­ving lost fa­mi­ly mem­bers through sui­ci­de, emp­ha­si­sed the need to cre­a­te a­wa­re­ness and be pre­ven­ta­ti­ve. She al­so shared that 10 Sep­tem­ber is Wor­ld Sui­ci­de P­re­ven­ti­on Day, with Sep­tem­ber ge­ne­ral­ly being de­vo­ted to this cau­se wor­ld­wi­de.

U­ni­ka Pal­mer, who af­ter se­ver­al fai­led sui­ci­de at­tempts now acts as a cham­pi­on for sui­ci­de p­re­ven­ti­on, shared her sto­ry. Pal­mer said sui­ci­de was not a sud­den de­ci­si­on. “It is the re­sult of un­re­sol­ved hurt. It co­mes o­ver a long pe­ri­od of ti­me. In my ca­se, I felt that pe­op­le he­ard w­hat I was saying, but they didn’t he­ar me.”

She said a sui­ci­de thre­at should ne­ver be ta­ken lig­ht­ly. “If so­meo­ne says they want to com­mit sui­ci­de to you, and you don’t act and they ta­ke that step, their b­lood is on your hands,” Pal­mer said. W­hat she found par­ti­cu­lar­ly lacking in her ca­se, was so­meo­ne she could trust e­nough to talk to. She ad­mo­nis­hed pe­op­le for being too judg­men­tal.

She said that look­ing back, she is glad her at­tempts fai­led. “I would ha­ve mis­sed too much. Seeing my child­ren grow up, being with my fa­mi­ly.”

He­art wren­ching

A psy­cho­lo­gist with the We­stern Ca­pe E­du­ca­ti­on De­part­ment, E­den Cen­tral Ka­roo, Gaynor Ja­ne­ke shared the per­specti­ve that tho­se pre­sent get to he­ar of the success­ful sui­ci­de at­tempts, whi­le the e­ven mo­re a­lar­ming re­a­li­ty was that her de­part­ment still de­alt with the ma­ny ca­ses that we­re unsuccess­ful, w­he­re se­ri­ous psy­cho­lo­gi­cal and e­mo­ti­o­nal is­su­es per­sis­ted.

“The pro­blem seems to be spi­ral­ling out of con­t­rol. At the WCED, we ne­ver as­su­me w­hen it co­mes to a sui­ci­de thre­at. We act im­me­di­a­te­ly.”

Ja­ne­ke said the an­ti-bul­lying cam­paign run in schools in the re­gi­on du­ring Au­gust was very success­ful. “It is he­art wren­ching though, that we are still re­spon­ding to let­ters from le­ar­ners.” Ja­ne­ke said that du­ring the cam­paign, le­ar­ners had the op­por­tu­ni­ty to voi­ce their con­cerns and ma­ny said they con­si­de­red sui­ci­de as a so­lu­ti­on to es­ca­pe bul­lying at school.

She al­so men­ti­o­ned the re­a­li­ty of ma­ny child­ren being di­ag­no­sed with de­pres­si­on and the ro­le that d­rug a­bu­se play­ed, so­meti­mes as a “form of self-me­di­ca­ti­on just to feel bet­ter”.

Ja­ne­ke con­clu­ded that a mul­ti-dis­ci­pli­na­ry ap­pro­ach was re­qui­red to pro­per­ly ad­dress the ho­pe­less­ness a­mong the youth that leds to sui­ci­de.

Se­ri­ous is­su­es, se­ri­ous acti­on

On his part, Pas­tor Neil Wil­li­ams, who lost a brot­her to sui­ci­de, al­so ur­ged tho­se pre­sent to spa­re their judg­ment of sui­ci­de victims, as it so­re­ly af­fects the fa­mi­ly mem­bers left be­hind.

Pas­tor Wil­li­ams’ brot­her succee­ded at his se­venth at­tempt to com­mit sui­ci­de in a com­mu­nal cell in the Ge­or­ge Cor­recti­o­nal Cen­t­re.

“If you can sa­ve one li­fe, by no­ti­cing the signs, by lis­te­ning or of­fe­ring a shoul­der to cry on, then you are the big­ge­st hero e­ver. Mo­re­o­ver, the per­son w­ho­se li­fe you sa­ve, will ne­ver f­or­get you.”

De­pu­ty com­man­der of the Da Ga­mas­kop Po­li­ce Clus­ter, Col Una Saay­man, said that sin­ce Ja­nu­a­ry, mo­re than 20 ca­ses of sui­ci­de had been re­por­ted at the 11 sta­ti­ons in the clus­ter from S­wel­len­dam to Gre­at Brak Ri­ver. This in­clu­des both child­ren and a­dults.

“Be­ar in mind that the po­li­ce hand­le sui­ci­de as a ty­pi­cal mur­der sce­ne. The­re­fo­re, it is im­por­tant to not tam­per with the de­ce­a­sed or any ot­her i­tems on the sce­ne, sin­ce this af­fects the in­ves­ti­ga­ti­on to fol­low.”

Mor­né Pie­ter­sen, sta­ti­on ma­na­ger at E­den FM, said this se­ri­ous is­sue re­qui­red se­ri­ous acti­on, to which the ra­dio sta­ti­on com­mit­ted it­self w­hol­ly. “We want to tell the sto­ries and help with p­re­ven­ti­on, so we can chan­ge the sta­tis­ti­cs.

In clo­sing, Le­ni­se Hen­dricks cal­led upon tho­se pre­sent to ta­ke the mes­sa­ge furt­her. “Ta­ke a mi­nu­te, chan­ge a li­fe. It is ti­me to gi­ve our child­ren a vi­si­on. We don’t rai­se them for me­re­ly good school re­sults and a ma­tric fa­re­well. We need to gi­ve them a vi­si­on.”

For mo­re in­for­ma­ti­on re­gar­ding the an­tis­ui­ci­de acti­on com­mit­tee, con­tact the chair, Dex­ter B­rink­huis (062 441 3720) or W­hat­sApp (+971 50 871 2431). Join An­ti-Sui­ci­de Mos­sel Bay on fa­ce­book for up­da­tes, en­coura­ge­ment and tips.

U­ni­ka Pal­mer shared her sto­ry of fai­led sui­ci­de at­tempts bold­ly. She now cham­pi­ons p­re­ven­ti­on via a fa­ce­book pa­ge, An­ti-Sui­ci­de Mos­sel Bay.

Pho­to: Cor­nel­le Car­stens

Le­ni­se Hen­dricks ur­ged the com­mu­ni­ty to rai­se child­ren with a vi­si­on.

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