Matric results will be sent to schools before they are published in the media this year so that disappointed pupils don't kill themselves.
"The hype around the release of matric results and the high rate of suicides during this time has led the department to have the results sent to schools first," Department of Education spokesman Lunga Nqengelele said.
He said the change in procedures was to allow school principals to first check the results of its own candidates before they were published in the media.
Nqengelele said results would be released in supervised environments where principals and teachers will be available to respond to any queries pupils might have.
"We have also had a number of suicides committed after pupil's names did not appear in the paper only to later discover when results are sent to schools that they had actually passed," Nqengelele said .
"Most important the reason for sending the results to schools first is to avoid all the negative and antisocial behaviour, such as drinking alcohol, that learners get up to while waiting for the papers to hit the streets.
"The results will be released a day before they are published in the media on December 30.
"The minister will make an official statement on the overall results on the day, followed by provincial media conferences hosted by provincial MECs to announce the results of their provinces."
KwaZulu-Natal Parents Association chairman Fayed Rajack welcomed the move. National Teachers Union spokesman Musa Gumede said the problem lay not with results in the media but with antisocial behaviour.