Learners from Rhenish Girls High gather outside the school where they look at the flowers against the fence in memory of a learner who passed away on Tuesday. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)
Learners from Rhenish Girls High gather outside the school where they look at the flowers against the fence in memory of a learner who passed away on Tuesday. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Shock after Stellenbosch pupil commits suicide

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published May 27, 2021

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Cape Town - The suicide of a grade 12 learner at Rhenish Girls High School in Stellenbosch has brought to 19 the number of learners that have taken their own lives over the last two years.

Rhenish Principal Helmien Slabber said the schooling body was deeply saddened by the untimely passing of the learner and offered psychological support to the other learners.

“We are in shock and so heartbroken about this. Out of respect for her family and, as she was a minor, we cannot divulge further details, including her identity, at this stage. Our sincerest condolences are extended to her parents, family and friends."

Last week, Grade 10 learner 15-year-old Tamar Snyman hung herself from Scottsville High’s sick bay.

According to the Western Cape Education Department, 19 learners have taken their own lives in the last two year and 43 over the past four years.

UCT Children’s Institute researcher Neziswa Titi said because suicide was a complex, multifaceted issue, there could be more than one underlying root cause leading to the unfortunate incident whereby a learner would decide to take their own life as a means of escape.

“Teen suicide has to do with the mental wellbeing of an individual and is multi-dimensional. Currently, we rely on universal Western and adult-centric approaches to understand teen suicide whereas we should recognise that adolescents are not homogenous and thereafter acquaint ourselves with the different cultures of teenagers so that we can learn the languages they use to communicate unhappiness, de-stress and suicidal ideation.

“We often pin one event as the cause of suicide whereas there may be various contributing factors that may have led the child to think that death was the solution to their problems.”

SA Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) operations director Cassey Chambers said: “Teenage depression and teen suicide are real issues in our country, that is why Sadag tries to create awareness around them throughout the year.

“We don’t see a particular season or peak period where there are more suicides than other periods, there are various reasons or triggers that could cause a teenager to feel depressed or suicidal, but we know that the biggest contributing factor, or lead cause for suicide, is undiagnosed or untreated depression.

“It is usually a combination of factors, never just one thing, that may lead to a teen thinking that suicide is the only solution to their problems. These include relationship problems, family issues, trauma, abuse, bullying, chronic illness and death.

“Some more recent contributing issues could also be the extra strain of the current state of the world with the global pandemic and all the added anxiety, stress disruption, adjusted way of life and routine. These can all be contributing factors.

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Cape Argus

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