Suicide suspected at Gauteng hospital

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Helen Joseph hospital Westdene


The tntrance to the casualty department at Helen Joseph Hospital. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Johannesburg - A patient is thought to have committed suicide by jumping from the seventh floor of the Helen Joseph Tertiary Hospital in Westdene, Johannesburg, on Tuesday, the Gauteng health department said.

Hospital CEO Dr Raymond Billa said nurses last saw the patient around 5.30am on Tuesday morning as he was going to the bathroom.

Twenty minutes later they noticed he had not returned to his bed. They opened the bathroom door and found the window open, Billa said.

“As hospital staff searched for the patient a cleaner saw a body lying on the ground floor and immediately alerted the nurses and security.”

Police were called to the scene.

The man was brought to the hospital's accident and emergency unit on Saturday after he was believed to have drunk herbal medicine and excessive alcohol at home, spokesman Simon Zwane said.

He was resuscitated and also treated for organophosphate poisoning.

On Monday he was moved to a medical ward from the hospital's intensive care unit.

The health department instituted an investigation into the apparent suicide, Gauteng health MEC Hope Papo said.

“This is a tragic incident that must be investigated in detail to provide us with full information about how it happened and whether it could have been prevented,” Papo said.

The patient's family and staff would be offered counselling to help them deal with the trauma, Zwane said.


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