Spotlight on suicidal children 2011-06-20 07:20:09.0 | Nivashni Nair | 2 comments GLOBAL suicide rates of children younger than 13 years are "extremely low", but two KwaZulu-Natal South Coast children, aged seven and 11, have killed themselves less than three months apart #socialMediaBar #socialMediaBar ul #socialMediaBar ul li Tweet
Mxolisi Nxumalo, 11, hanged himself in his grandmothers room on Wednesday after his friends in Umbumbulu, south of Durban apparently called him a gorilla and teased him about his dark complexion.
A seven-year-old girl was found hanging by a rope from a tree in Sawoti in March after she complained of being terrified to go to "big" school.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG ) operations director Cassey Chambers yesterday said suicide among children under the age of 13 years was "rare".
"We find that the age group of children who commit suicide is between 14 and 21," she said.
Chambers said many depressed children aged between six and 13 have called the SADAG helpline.
The 2008 National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey found that while there was a small number of children under the age of 13 who were depressed and suicidal, a quarter of the 10270 children up to Grade 12 who were interviewed reported having experienced sad and hopeless feelings.
"More research needs to be conducted to explore the underlying determinants of this serious mental health problem. Intervention development and implementation needs to be accelerated together with evaluation mechanisms for both treatment and prevention of these mental health problems," the survey recommended.
Chambers said parents should not ignore warning signs and should take every threat of suicide seriously.
"If a childs eating and sleeping habits have changed or if the child is suddenly not interested in activities that he once enjoyed, parents should seek help.
"If a childs performance in school has suddenly dropped, parents need to look into that as well."
She said suicidal children under the age of 13 years usually find ideas to kill themselves from television or friends.
"As much as we cannot believe that a seven-year-old would actually hang herself, depressed children find a way to get out because being depressed is really the saddest place to be in. But suicide is preventable by seeking help."
The SADAG helpline is: 0800-70-80- 90.