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Literacy is a luxury that many of us take for granted. That is why SADAG created SPEAKING BOOKS and revolutionized the way healthcare information is delivered to low literacy communities.

The customizable 16-page book, read by local celebrity audio recordings, ensures that vital health and social messages can be seen, heard, read and understood by everyone across the world.

We started with books on Teen Suicide prevention , HIV, AIDS and Depression, Understanding Mental Health and have developed over 100+ titles, such as TB, Malaria, Polio, Vaccines for over 45 countries.

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teen suicide prevention

Suicide is the leading cause of death in youth aged 15 – 29 years, and accounts for 9.5% of all unnatural teen deaths in South Africa (National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey, 2011). The research studies have also shown that 31.5% of youth have attempted suicide requiring medical treatment and have attempted suicide more than once. The statistics are alarming and we need to ensure that various stakeholders are informed and alert to the risk factors of suicide so that they can effectively refer teens needing help and support. Teachers are identified as important role-players in the lives of teenagers and can be utilised as an effective resource for identifying teens at risk.

In commemoration of Teen Suicide Prevention Week, SADAG hosted a series of Teacher Talks on Depression and Suicide. The talks were held in the following schools, namely, Kwena Molapo Comprehensive School in Lanseria, Diepsloot West Secondary School in Diepsloot, Seshegong Secondary School in Olivenhoutbosch and J.B.Matabane Secondary School in Ivory Park. All these schools are situated in under-privileged townships that have limited or no psychiatric services to deal with Depression and Suicide. The aim of the talks were to train teachers on how to identify the signs and symptoms of Depression and be alert to the warning signs of Suicide.

Warning Signs of Suicide:

  • A suddenly deteriorating academic or sport performance
  • Fixation on death – talking or joking about suicide even on social media
  • Unhealthy peer relationships
  • Volatile mood or a sudden change in personality
  • Risk-taking behaviours eg. taking drugs or having unprotected sex
  • Abusive or dysfunctional family environment
  • Eating disorder, self-harm
  • Bullying and peer pressure
  • Neglecting personal hygiene and appearance
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Social isolation or withdrawing from family and friends
  • Frequent absenteeism

teacher talks 1
Figure 1Nono Maseko presenting to teachers at Kwena Molapo Comprehensive School in Lanseria

Suicide risk factors:

Some teens are at risk for suicide if:

  • They have attempted suicide before
  • There is a history of suicide or depression in the family
  • They use alcohol or drugs
  • They have been sexually or physically assaulted
  • They have a chronic illness
  • They have a learning disability or a physical disability
  • There is family conflict or relationship problems
  • There has been a recent loss, family or relationship break-up, or death
  • There has been a disruption in their lives such as relocation or change of school and friends
  • They have been exposed to violence

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Figure 2Anne Rajcoomar presenting the Depression and Suicide Prevention Talk to teachers at Diepsloot West Secondary School

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Figure 3Teacher Talk at Seshegong Secondary School

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Figure 4Teacher Talk at J.B.Matabane Secondary School

Comments from some of the educators:

Mr. Maligana, principal of Kwena Molapo Comprehensive School: “We are thankful that SADAG has chosen our school because the talk was interesting and very informative. It will help us to be alert to the risk factors and warning signs of depression.”

Mr. Mkhwanazi, deputy principal of Diepsloot West Secondary School: “Suicide is a serious problem and our teachers try to do their best, and we are grateful that organisations such as SADAG do exist.”

Ms. Seshweni, deputy principal of Seshegong Secondary School: “We are happy to have SADAG at our school to tell us about Depression and Suicide. We would like for our learners to also know how to take care of their mental health.”

Mr. Seakamela, principal of J.B.Matabane Secondary School: “We learnt a lot from the talk and we will do our best to help and assist our learners. We are grateful to SADAG for the posters and the Speaking Books which will be very useful to our learners.”

If you need any further information or would like for SADAG to host a Teacher Talk at your school please contact Tracy or Anne on 011 234 4837 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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