Towards a pastoral counselling model for adolescent suicidal behaviour
Over the past three decades, vouth suicide has become a mental and public health
problem of epidemic proportions. The sociaL oolitical and economic changes that have
occurred in South Africa over the nast two decades have had a verv visible imnact on the
mental health of South Africans. The nonulation of metronolitan Durhan is suhiect to
most of the stressful factors that are prevalent elsewhere in South African societv. such
as severe unemolovment raoid urbanisation with inadeauate housim1:. a hi!Ih crime rate.
nrofound nolitical chan!le \:vith associated violence and a nrolon!!ed and deen economic
recession. The ripple effects of all these changes have impacted on education and the
familv svstem. hence subiectim! individuals of the communitv. esoeciallv the
adolescents to extraordinarv nressures. ·1hese nressures have forced teena!lers into selfdestructive
This research focuses on the adolescent suicidal, behaviour in the Durhan area as current
police statistics. doctors. teachers. counsellors and therapists all expressed deep concerns
and indicated that teenage suicides in Durban have been on the increase ( refer to article
in annexure 4. 5 and 6). Accordim! to the Deoression and Anxietv sunoort i:rroun of South
Africa, research conducted have indicated that one in five teens thinks about harming
themselves. with 7.8 % of these vouths actuallv attempting suicide before. while 57.7 %
of the samnle told someone of their intentions to end their lives.
In the article bv Roos (2001 ). the suicide victim's (Gerhard-16 vears) mother begged to
all concerned. She cried. "Teenagers are continuallv warned bv their schools and
churches about Aids. unnrotected sex. abortion. dnms and alcohol hut whv doesn't
anvone talk about suicide? Don't assume teenagers know how selfish and senseless
suicide is - teach them!" It is difficult to exolain whv a voung nerson who seems to have
evervthim! iminrr for him or her commits suicide. Perhans she or he has exoerienced a
loss or disapoointment but to outsiders it rarelv seems to be serious enough to end one's
life. Yet that is exactlv what manv teens do. There is definitelv a "crv for helo" from
Althou2:h all of the aforementioned. acted as a catalvst for this research. the researcher
was stronglv driven bv the fact that he personallv witnessed. first hand. an individual who
committed suicide. During; the vear 2001. an individual. who was a osvchiatric oatient.
iumoed to his death from the first floor of the Kznoa. Pschiatric clinic. Starwood
Phoenix. Also during the vear 2000. mv neighbour's 16 vears old teenager committed
suicide bv han!!inu: herself Most recentlv. on 6 November 2002. a teacher's 18 vears old
son hanu:ed himself Suicidal behaviours. esoeciallv amon2: adolescents. are reoorted or
heard of everv other dav in the Durban area.
Suicide is a oroblem. which confronts all members of the communitv. even the church.
The Christian adolescents are not exempted from suicidal behaviour. Since reasons for
suicidal behaviour is never ending. the researcher will trv to find causes for suicidal
behaviour. not onlv amonu: Christian teenau:ers. but also adolescents in g:eneral. However.
the main focus of this research is to identifv nastoral counsellin!! models for suicidal