• Nicky Aspaslan Department of Social Development Professions at the University of Port Elizabeth



Suicide and attempted suicide as a response to crisis are growing alarmingly among the young. Thomerson (2002:30) states that “Youth suicide is a growing epidemic… It is currently the third leading cause of death of 15- to 24-year-olds, and the fourth leading cause of death among 10- to 14-year-olds. Nearly 4600 kids killed themselves in the United States, and approximately 46 000 others tried”. Schlebusch (1995:3) has confirmed the high incidence of attempted suicides by postulating that for every completed suicide there are at least eight to ten attempted suicides. In a study by Terblanche, Bates, Bokwana, Brits, Corder, Cuendet, Davis, Donson, Mbengu, Ngesi, Olivier, Roger, Stokwe, Totana and Viljoen (1999:148) on risk behaviours of high school learners in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, it was found that 25% of a sample of 2198 learners that had responded to the specific item in the questionnaire on having thoughts the past year, had such thoughts in the year preceding the study. From the total 25% who had thoughts about suicide, 16% had told someone about such thoughts. 14% of the sample of 2201 who responded to the specific item in the questionnaire on attempting suicide in the year of the study, in fact did attempted suicide, and 42% (or 122 respondents) of the learners who attempted suicide needed to seek professional treatment. Terblanche et al. (1999:81) concluded that suicide ideation was higher amongst female respondents than among their male counterparts. However, more male respondents actually attempted suicide which necessitated professional treatment following such incidents


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