TODAY marks World Suicide Prevention Day, a triggering day for families who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Suicide is a major public health problem with far-reaching social, emotional and economic consequences. With September 10 dedicated as a day to highlight suicide awareness, a project has been started to create hope through action.
#Keready, a movement dedicated to youth health, is stepping up to raise awareness on suicide.
The project is run by 10 young doctors, along with a team of 96 nurses supported by communicators, drivers and mobilisers who ensure that the young people in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape, have access to the health services they need.
With the vision of promoting a healthy lifestyle and providing a safe space for young people to get health checks and information, Keready, loosely translated as “I’m ready”, is also committed to tackling the sensitive issue of suicide prevention among the youth.
“Suicidality is a pressing health concern that can affect individuals from diverse backgrounds, irrespective of culture, gender, or economic status. Sadly, young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health challenges,” said Dr James Menyah-Artivor, a Keready doctor.
As part of Keready, 46 mobile health clinics have been set up to offer health checks, to screen and test for a variety of conditions, such as sexually transmitted infections, blood pressure, diabetes, and HIV.
These units are also available for young people to ask questions they have about their health, their bodies, including questions relating to their mental health.
“By promoting open, honest conversations, we hope to combat the stigma associated with mental health issues and create a safe space for young people to seek support and share their experiences,” said Dr Afifa Titus, another one of the doctors who oversee the WhatsApp Keready Doctor line.
Through unconventional marketing campaigns such as TikTok challenges, podcasts, and WhatsApp messages, and their 46 mobile health units, Keready provides practical tips and self-care strategies to help young people manage their health, their emotions, and reduce stress and anxiety.
They also share information about mental health services, support hotlines, and online support communities that offer local assistance. With this, the project recognises that self-care and emotional well-being play a crucial role in preventing suicide.
“We invite the community, media, and all caring individuals to join suicide prevention efforts, especially on this significant day.
“Together, we can break the silence and create a culture of understanding, compassion, and resilience among young people,” said Dr Asanda Shabalala.