Thursday September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) around the world, organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), and co-sponsor World Health Organisation (WHO).
This year, however, we find ourselves within a different context, trying to emerge from various levels of lockdown and re-establish society and community in stabilising healthy daily activities. In schools, students have either been unable to enjoy the regular routine of attending class or, those with access to devices and data, have found themselves experiencing an increase of several hours a day of online learning. With increased screen times comes increased exposure and influence. A 33-year-old American man committed suicide on social media, and while platforms tried to contain the virality in recent days by blocking access to the video, platform users had repurposed the video in other formats and published into multiple channels, including teen app sensations, TikTok and Instagram. Schools in South Africa have issued warnings of the video to parents over the last few days.
- Parents need to stay abreast of the trends and hoaxes online and either self educate on Google, or ask their school for expert training from educators like MySociaLife
- While many teens don’t enjoy probing questions, check-in on what’s interesting online – the highs and lows, or what’s being talked about – and monitor their reactions. But be conscious of your own anxiety rising and how you appear in this conversation.
- Provide the safety that their online concerns can be talked about, without taking the device away as punishment if they reveal something that is shocking to you. This may not be their fault that they witnessed something online
- Look for changes in their behaviour around sleep, mood, anxiety, their friend group, or school work
- Seek professional help as soon as possible, via your health care provider or professional suicide helplines, listed below
- Request schools to educate their staff around the latest viral dangers – given the time spent at school – to share the support function and education of students
At MySociaLife, we have a simple motto, says McCoubrey, “Safer kids can be smarter, and then excel online. But they will need facilitators that are ‘on the pulse’, objective and highly experienced.”
Lifeline Western Cape Telephone Counselling: 021 461 1111
Lifeline Western Cape WhatsApp: 063 709 2620