Several Tsakane Secondary School learners committed suicide over the past two weeks. The school (TISOSO) community is grappling with the distressing situation as concerns escalate over a rising number of learners committing suicide and grappling with suicidal thoughts.
Tragic events unfolded last week at the school, with reports indicating that two learners tragically ended their lives. In contrast, three others made attempts to do so. In an additional heartbreaking incident, a general worker at the school also took his own life.
In response to these devastating incidents, concerned parents joined forces with representatives from faith-based organisations and traditional healers to hold a prayer session at the school, seeking spiritual intervention to address what they perceive as a deeply troubling situation.
However, the prayer session was met with a time constraint, as the school’s principal granted only 15 minutes. Several learners reportedly entered a trance-like state during this brief period, collapsing and requiring medical attention. Five learners were promptly taken to a local clinic by their parents. At the same time, another was transported to a hospital by ambulance.
Pastor Bonisile Msizi of the Pentecostal Catholic Apostolic Church of South Africa expressed his deep sorrow over the spate of suicides and suicide attempts among the school’s learners.
Among those who took their own lives was Pastor Msizi’s nephew, Esethu Mbizwene, a Grade 12 student.
Calling for a lasting solution through prayer and spiritual intervention, Pastor Msizi emphasised the urgent need for action to ensure students’ safe and conducive learning environment.
He voiced his disappointment with the school’s handling of the situation, particularly the response to learners who entered trance-like states during the prayer session. Pastor Msizi questioned the assertion that the learners were faking these trances, highlighting the genuine pain and suffering the students were experiencing.
Parent Naome Motloung echoed these concerns, stressing that there must be underlying reasons for the learners’ distress and the subsequent tragic outcomes. She stressed the need for unity among community organisations, faith-based groups, and spiritual bodies to collectively address the school’s challenges.
District representative Godfrey Mononyane initially suggested that some learners might be faking their trances. Still, he quickly apologised for his statement after the parents intervened and expressed their disagreement.
Mononyane urged parents to collaborate to solve the school’s challenges, emphasising the importance of addressing these issues as a community.
In response to these tragic events, Samkelo ‘Mandoza’ Mthethwa, the chairperson of the Pan African Student Organisation of Azania (PASO), called for immediate intervention from religious and healthcare professionals to support the school community. He emphasised the urgency of providing prayers and counselling services to the school. He called for a thorough investigation to understand the underlying factors contributing to the series of suicides in a short timeframe.
Mthethwa underscored the need to swiftly address and contain the suicide crisis, particularly as matric preliminary exams draw near.
For those struggling with suicidal thoughts and anxiety, the following helpline numbers are available to provide support:
- South African Depression and Anxiety Group Mental Health Line – 011 234 4837
- Suicide Crisis Line – 0800 567 567
- Department of Social Development substance abuse line’s 24hr helpline – 0800 12 13 14 or SMS 32312
- Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline – 0800 70 80 90
- ADHD Helpline – 0800 55 44 33.
Picture: X / WMACAKidz
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