A 26-year-old man from Botshabelo in the Free State, who has battled through years of deep depression, has decided to start a support group to help others like himself.
After witnessing young people committing suicide out of desperation and depression, he has decided to start an organisation called “Start Afresh”.
Nkoko Nkoko is keen to start working together with young people in Botshabelo to raise awareness of the dangers of depression.
“I’m a young person who is willing to assist other young people who are in and out of school to find ways of avoiding to be victims of depression,” said Nkoko.
He said that young people sometimes get depressed, particularly when they have completed their studies and remain unemployed for long periods, unable to find the jobs of their dreams.
“An unemployed young person who’s always sitting at home and doing nothing can be dangerous to the society and to him or herself because we don’t know what he or she is thinking. But all I know is that everyone wants to have a normal life like any other successful person and that on its own is a frustration that could lead to anger and cause depression if things are not going according to plan,” he added.
Nkoko, holds a diploma in tourism, used to suffer from depression. He was pursuing an advanced diploma in transport and logistics at the Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein in 2017 but had to drop out due to financial problems.
“I had mixed emotions, not knowing what to do because I had only my father who could no longer afford to pay for my fees at the university as my mother passed on in 2013. I was forced to go look for a job to make a living while my friends were furthering their studies.”
“At first I did not know where to start with my life. I have asked myself so many questions without getting answers. I had to work for an insurance company, which deep down in my heart was not the job I have dreamed about,” explained Nkoko.
He added that the situation got worse when he was dismissed from work because of low performance.
He said “I had to go and sit at home, and the frustration was worse. I thought of taking my life but one of my friends took me to church and as I kept going to church the situation became better. That’s when I said to myself I should also assist young people to overcome their problems.”
He is now in the process of registering a non-profit organization with the intention of recruiting more young people into the programme. The organisation will be named “Qalo Botjha”, meaning “start afresh”.
“The organisation will help young people share their problems. They need to make sure they are not hooked into alcohol and drugs as a way to forget their problems,” added Nkoko.
“Many parents do not take sickness such as depression seriously and only worry when their children have flu or a headache. They forget about emotional sicknesses, which could be the reason why we see many young people committing suicide or using drugs or getting involved in criminal acts,” he said.
According to him, the recent death of Lerothodi Joseph Mokati (20), a tourism student from Central University of Technology (CUT) who jumped off the Loch Logan Waterfront in Bloemfontein on Saturday 18 August, was another local case of depression.
“The reason why he took his own life is still unknown at this stage. But students from different institutions raised their worries about depression and how it plays a role in suicide. Some of them fail to handle pressure during their studies,” he added.
An edited version of this story was published by The Citizen.