Hospital suicides disturb state

Sipho Masombuka and Pertunia Ratsatsi

Sipho Masombuka and Pertunia Ratsatsi

The Gauteng department of health is gravely concerned about incidents of patients jumping to their deaths through windows of the Pretoria Academic Hospital.

Three patients have so far died after jumping to their deaths from the fourth and ninth floors of the new hospital between February and July this year.

On February 25, a 29-year-old male patient from Soshanguve, Pretoria, died instantly when he jumped to his death through a window of ward 4.1 on the fourth floor. This was just after 5.30pm.

The patient apparently complained to the nursing sister-in-charge about intense heat in the ward.

He told her that he was gasping for breath and then asked for a glass of water.

When the sister returned with the water the patient was standing on his hospital bed. He was desperately trying to open a window. When he failed to do so, he reportedly smashed it and jumped out.

On June 23, another male patient in his early 40s, died after jumping from ward 4.5 on the same floor.

This brings the number of patients who have died after jumping from the 4th floor to two.

Then on July 17, a female psychiatric patient died after she jumped through a window on the the 9th floor.

She landed on the 3rd floor and died in the casualty ward later.

Gauteng department of health spokesman Howard Ndaba described the jumping incidents as unfortunate.

"We are in the process of installing burglar proofing and placing sealing on all the windows.

"Regrettably in these incidents no warning signs were given by the patients.

"If we identify any possible danger we intervene by providing counselling to the affected patient," said Ndaba.