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Suicide levels among initiates at circumcision schools have become a major concern for the Eastern Cape health department.
Departmental traditional circumcision coordinator Zweliphakamile Dweba said the suicides usually resulted after conflicts between initiates and their parents.
"In some instances, the problem starts when boys go to the initiation school without their parents' permission," said Dweba.
An experienced East London traditional surgeon, Isaac Olayi, said it was not easy to notice the signs when initiates were suicidal.
He said sometimes initiates succumbed to peer pressure and were circumcised without permission from their parents.
He appealed to parents to communicate with their children on issues around initiation before they were exposed to influences from their peers.
Dweba also expressed concern over assaults on initiates. He attributed the assaults to bullying by fellow initiates. However, he was confident the province could curb circumcision-related deaths during this winter season.
"Last December, we only had eight circumcision-related deaths and that was an achievement by our standards," said Dweba.
He attributed the improvement to partnerships the department had with traditional leaders, the community and the education department.
He said the compliance shown by people involved in circumcision schools indicated that the partnerships were working.
However, he was not pleased with the low-key role played by ward councillors in the townships. He said they were not seen to be involved with circumcision schools.