South Sudanese Youth
South Sudanese youth have alarmingly high suicide rates, with intergenerational trauma playing a significant role. Research has revealed that these young people are often dealing with long-term psychological effects resulting from displacement, identity crises, and the impacts of physical and emotional violence. Reports indicate a heightened vulnerability to mental health conditions among South Sudanese youth – many of whom have been exposed to intergenerational dysfunction, with some forced to take on caretaker roles too early.
Barriers such as language difficulties and cultural lack of tolerance or recognition of mental illness lead to a lack of access to appropriate information, making it even more difficult for them to access care or support. Understanding the driving forces behind these devastating suicide rates is an urgent priority if we are to protect our young people and create brighter futures for them.
South Sudanese youth facing intergenerational trauma has seen a significant increase in suicide rates in recent years. The contributing factors include language deficits, mental illness stigma, substance abuse, and very uncompromising thinking and illiteracy among the adult population, which causes an ever-increasing divide between parents and their children.
The increased suicide numbers among Sudanese youth have become a significant concern among medical professionals looking for long-term solutions to combat these alarming statistics. Local and international organisations are researching the causes of these issues to create holistic solutions to support individuals and entire communities over time. The hope is that by empowering young South Sudanese people, their families, and their local communities with support, including mental health counselling, education, and basic life stability measures such as housing and job opportunities, suicide rates will reduce significantly.
Utilising existing contacts within the Sudanese community and various relevant elders, Newosis seeks to form trust and relationship development through designated meetings, information sessions, and outreach days to better engage with youth most at risk. It is acknowledged that the issues in this particular group of youth are complex, and gaining the trust of the community and the trust of the individual youth participants will be critical to any intervention’s success.
Looking within three years of the future, Newosis intends to work towards providing at-risk youth (who are tainted with behavioural problems rather than mental health and neuro-divergency issues). Practical support and offering a haven away from the family home will provide a space that will allow the interventions mentioned earlier to occur. Currently, there are plans for a halfway house, “Nick’s house,” to provide practical support for offending youth who need a safe place to reside if they are on home detention bail. The first step to initiating “Nicks House” is to develop the trust and rapport of all ages in the community. Newosis has the support of the current Chairman of the Sudanese Community and the Chairman of the South Australian African Community to develop a ‘hub’ to support these at-risk youth. There will also be, in the initial meetings, an opportunity to educate the older generations on alternate education pathways to lessen the pressure young people feel to become the family’s breadwinners (for example, the pressure put on youth to obtain enough distinction to enter university, to gain a high (enough) then paying job, and support their entire family, crushing any dreams they may have had for themselves and their independence).
Also refer to section 4(a) above, which is also entirely relevant to this community concerning Newosis’ plans. Still, any general explanations will be more nuanced for each specific young ethnic or gender-diverse individual or community we seek to help and support, and this will be a task seen through the lenses of sociology, social anthropology, history, and psychology.