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Do 23 teenagers commit suicide every day in South Africa?

voa2Do 23 teenagers commit suicide every day in South Africa? This claim was reported recently in a Voice of America article.

The publication followed up on a tragic incident earlier this year when a 14 year old girl from Johannesburg committed suicide. In the article, titled “Mother Uses Pain of Daughter’s Death to Try to Save Others”, Voice of America stated: “Police statistics show that teen suicide can truly be considered an ‘epidemic’ in South Africa. On average, 23 teenagers take their life each day.

But as Africa Check reported earlier this year, there is no data to support this figure. According to Statistics South Africa’s latest available data on causes of death, 63 deaths among children aged between 13 and 19 years could be attributed to suicide in 2013. However, experts told us that official data are likely to underreport suicide deaths.

The most reliable data are to be found in the Medical Research Council’s  2009 Injury Mortality Survey, a nationally representative study that gathered data from mortuaries. The study used post mortems as they provided more detail on the cause of death than a death certificate. It's unfortunately the latest available study of its kind.

The survey counted 681 suicide deaths among 10 to 19 year olds in 2009, translating into nearly two teenage suicide deaths per day then. - 01/12/2015

 

Additional reading

Is suicide the cause of 1 in 10 unnatural teen deaths in South Africa?

Does S.Africa rank 8th in the world by suicide rate?

Do a third of South Africans really suffer from mental illnesses?

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