The following story has sensitive details.

University of Cape Town (UCT) Professor Bongani Mayosi‘s death has drawn the issue of depression into sharp focus.

SABC News visited the Teddy Bear Clinic in Protea Glen, Soweto to see how depression affects children and what can be done to remedy it.

Depression is described as an assassination of the mind and a silent killer.

Tormented by her ordeal of being raped, three years ago a young girl was in a relationship with an older woman. She’s been diagnosed with major depression and is medicated.

“I cut myself, I overdose on medication. When I cut myself I don’t feel pain I don’t feel better it’s the only way to console myself that’s why I console myself. I no longer have any positive energy around me I used to be an A student,” says the rape victim.

Another child, a 12-year-old, is a sexual assault victim. That particular trauma has led to uncontrollable emotional outbursts.

“I don’t think any child would like it their biological father touches them inappropriately and say it’s because he loves you.”

Depression however is not exclusive to abuse victims.

Dr Shaheda Omar of the Teddy Bear Clinic says: “There’s a huge difference between sadness and depression. Sadness would be fleeting it would come and go, depression is long lasting. They are totally surrounded by doom and gloom. There’s hopelessness, helplessness that help cannot be made available. It’s a total state of helplessness but also the only way out is termination of one’s life. It’s devastation and destruction.”

Parents should be wary of danger and warning signals such as behavioural changes, lack of focus, changes in pattern and substance abuse.

Children tend to become angry or throw tantrums. They tend to lose focus and have scant attention

Eating and sleep disorders are common and some may even resort to drugs.

Intensive psychological therapy is often required. It’s a painful and arduous process for those whose innocence has been crushed.

But no matter how many doors close there’s always a way out.

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