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Sadag: Cops too scared to seek trauma counselling

Sadag says majority of phone calls from officer show they're struggling to deal with violence.

The Johannesburg offices of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group take on average 400 calls a day. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) says police officers are often too scared to seek help or trauma counselling fearing this may jeopardise their careers.

Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month and Sadag says it has one specific helpline dedicated to police officers allowing them to seek help confidentially.

Government says there is still a massive stigma around mental illness, which society needs to deal with.

Sadag says the majority of phone calls from police officers show they are struggling to deal with either the violence they have witnessed or personal problems.

The NGO's Cassey Chambers says they have a specific line strictly dedicated to police officers seeking help.

"Relationship problems are a huge trigger for many police officers and they don't know how to cope. Often it's a combination of all those issues that makes them feel overwhelmed."

She says officers use their firearms when in a conflict situation and this behaviour is taken home where families are killed before the officers end their own life.

Sadag is currently facing a financial crunch fearing that it doesn't receive enough funding it may have to close its doors.

Meanwhile, Sadag says it is deeply concerned about the spike in cyber bullying among children and people using social media to post suicidal notes.

The NGO says in most instances teenagers don't know how to handle a suicidal status update and end up sharing it instead obtaining professional help for the person in need.

It says the youngest South African child to commit suicide was just seven years old.

Chambers said, "It's very damaging. The long-term effects of cyber bullying are in tense. We have seen that Facebook has become more popular, sending our messages like 'I can't do this anymore, goodbye to family and friends'. The sad thing is that someone would like that or put a comment instead of doing something about it."

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