LRM EXPORT 20190604 125002 300x226Alcohol and substance abuse, relationship breakups and feelings of hopelessness are some of the leading contributing factors concerning suicidal thoughts among students, says WSU’s senior student psychologist, Phumla Mahali.

As the world commemorated World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) 10 September, Walter Sisulu University’s (WSU) Health department shared its opinions of the day.

According to Phumla, ninety percent of suicide cases are triggered off by a humiliating life event, recent disappointment or the individual being involved in some sort of trouble.

“The youth of today have to face the hard task of forming a separate identity from one’s primary family group in an increasingly demanding and competitive society,” said Phumla.

She said the factors that predispose students in tertiary level to suicidal acts stand apart.

“The common link among people who kill themselves is the belief that suicide is the only solution to a set of overwhelming feelings.  The attraction of suicide is that it will finally end these unbearable feelings,” Phumla said.

She also alluded to the fact that the physical, social and academic changes that occur in adolescence and young adulthood can be overwhelming. Unresolved conflicts from a tender age usually come to light in this period.

“The life phases of adolescence and young adulthood are fast and interchanging as one goes through them. In fact, the early symptoms and signs of many psychological disorders first emerge in late adolescence,” Phumla added.

Tertiary life involves a number of additional pressures on the student: students have to cope with greater academic demands, increased financial responsibilities and a heightened awareness of their sexual identity and orientation.

Fezeka Tafeni, a third year Journalism student and peer educator said the life stories might positively impact suicidal people.

“People who had attempted suicide should use this day to share their stories and what helped them, in that way they might discourage anyone who has suicidal thought. The suicide prevention should be a daily mission,” she said.

WSU peer education programme includes public education about topics related to suicide. Students who are battling in the university setting should try and share their experiences and problems with others at their institutions.

Mrs Mahali said most suicides can be prevented by sensitive responses to the person in crisis.

Below are the tips on how to save a suicidal person:

  • Remain calm. In most instances there is no rush. Sit and listen – really listen to what person saying. Give understanding and active emotional support for his or her feelings.
  • Deal directly with the topic of suicide. Most individuals have mixed feelings about death and dying and are open to help. Talk openly and ask direct questions about the person’s intention.
  • Encourage problem solving and positive actions. Remember that the person involved in emotional crisis is not thinking clearly, encourage him or her to refrain from making any serious, irreversible decisions while in a crisis. Talk about the positive alternatives which may establish hope for the future.
  • Get assistance. Although you want to help, do not take full responsibility by trying to be the sole counsel. Seek out resources which can lend qualified help, even if it means breaking a confidence.  Let the troubled person know you are concerned – so concerned that you are willing to arrange help beyond that which you can offer.

In conclusion the information to be conveyed to a person in crisis:

“The suicidal crisis is temporary.  Unbearable pain can be survived.  Help is available.  You are not alone.”

Phumla emphasized that suicides can be prevented through united communities in addressing the factors that lead to suicide acts.

By Mawande Mute