Society must protect young people from suicide

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) says suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in older adolescents between 15 and 19 years. It says risk factors for suicide are multifaceted, and include harmful use of alcohol, abuse in childhood, stigma against help-seeking, barriers to accessing care and access to means of suicide. Digital media, like any other media, can play a significant role in either enhancing or weakening suicide prevention efforts, says the WHO on its website.

The media has been awash with reports of teenagers who have taken their own lives in recent weeks, and the country also had a number of such unfortunate incidents last year. It is worrying that we are seeing an increase in the number of children who are taking their own lives. In Bulawayo, a teenage boy recently killed himself because he was being bullied at school, according to his family. In another recent incident, a teenage girl took her own life while her younger sister watched. And all these cases reflect a broken social system that cannot handle mental stress among the young and the old. Experts say suicide can be caused by a mental health condition.

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