Parents should closely monitor the behaviour of their children, especially around this time of the year, just after they receive their year-end reports.
Earlier this month, a Grade 11 pupil from Ekangala, east of Pretoria, reportedly committed suicide after receiving his 2017 year-end report. He was found hanging in his mother's home. Another 18-year-old boy from Soshanguve, allegedly threw himself in front of a moving train after he found out he had failed -- also in early December.
"It's a very serious issue," says South African Depression and Anxiety Group's (Sadag's) operations director Cassey Chambers.
"From the calls we receive from students, one of the main issues is always stress. Stress from exams and stress from (impending) marks," says Chambers. "We get calls from students who feel suicidal and completely helpless and hopeless."
Chambers suggests that parents check in on their children and ask them how they feel about their results. If a child has not done well or has failed a grade, parents should remind them that failure is not the end of the world.
Failing a grade does not signify the end; we all fail at some point.
"Failing a grade does not signify the end; we all fail at some point. However, we must be encouraged to start over and strive to reach our desired goals," Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said, responding to the Ekangala death.
Chambers also urges parents to look out for warning signs of stress -- including changes in appetite, sleep problems, withdrawal from friends or activities, excessive worry and negative thoughts, and irritability or impatience. These symptoms could manifest before or after a student receives their results.
"If a friend notices these symptoms in their friend, they too should reach out for help. It could literally save a life," says Chambers.
She points out, however, that suicide is trickier to anticipate, because it can come without warning. Common signs can include an abrupt change in personality, avoiding friends or social activities, feelings of failure and helplessness, and even talk of suicide.
Where to get help
Childline -- offers counselling specially for children. The organisation's toll free number 08 000 55 555.
Sadag -- offers free and confidential counselling. Their toll free number is 0800 212 223.
Lifeline -- A 24-hour crisis centre offering free and confidential counselling in all areas. Reachable on 0861 322 322.
Suicide Crisis Line -- 0800 567 567 or SMS 31393.