Mental health in spotlight as three Gauteng learners die in one week
Share this article:
Pretoria - The deaths of three learners in Gauteng this week has once again shone the spotlight on the threat of mental health illnesses.
The tragedies took place just days before World Suicide Prevention Day, which is being commemorated today.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has sent his condolences to the families of the learners.
Lesufi said his department had learnt of the death of a Grade 10 learner from Emadwaleni Secondary School in Soweto, with the initial reports indicating that the boy hanged himself after quarrelling with his parents.
His body was found next to a park near his home and was removed by Gauteng Pathology Services. The department reported that investigations by the police to determine the circumstances surrounding the death were ongoing.
The second suspected suicide case was that of a Grade 7 learner from PS Fourie Primary School in Eersterust, east of Pretoria.
It is alleged that the boy took his own life. He had not attended classes since the beginning of the third term on July 26.
The third death was that of a Grade 11 boy learner from Clapham High School, also in Pretoria, who fell sick on the school grounds on Tuesday.
The cause of death was not specified, but according to the department, he collapsed while playing soccer.
Despite his parents and an ambulance being called immediately, the learner reportedly died at Muelmed Hospital in Arcadia the same day.
“We are deeply saddened by these untimely deaths, and wish to convey our condolences to the families who lost their children in these three different incidents.
“We mourn with the families, friends, teachers and fellow learners. There are no adequate words to express our sorrow at the loss of a child. We hope that the families will find comfort in the knowledge that we, too, share their loss,” said Lesufi.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group said suicide in South Africa had been an ongoing concern long before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The group said the problem was particularly prevalent among men, who were four times more likely to die by suicide than women.
It said the pandemic had had a direct impact on the population’s mental health since the start of the national lockdown.