KZN sets up hotline for when pupils flunk matric

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

The KwaZulu-Natal department of health has embarked on an initiative to help Grade 12 pupils who suffer stress after failing their matric.

The department has launched a toll-free number for easy access to a psychologist during that difficult time.

The hotline number will be open during office hours to help pupils, parents and teachers cope when children fail matric.

A psychologist will be available on the toll-free number 0800-005-133.

Department spokesman Chris Maxon said they were concerned that there had been an increase in attempted and successful suicides by pupils.

"The programme will provide a support system for the counselling and support of pupils, educators and parents alike," he said.

"The teachers' strike may have also put pupils under immense pressure during the examinations."

Maxon said about one third of the reported cases of suicidal behaviour in South Africa involved children and adolescents.

He said statistics revealed a grave situation, with estimates of up to 9,5percent of the unnatural deaths of children and adolescents in South Africa being the result of suicide.

Maxon said the programme would create an awareness of suicide among the general population.

"Parents, educators and learners will be educated regarding early recognition of the signs and symptoms suggestive of a distressed teenager who is potentially at risk of suicide," he said.

A recent hospital-based research survey indicates that more than a quarter of patients admitted because of suicidal behaviour were black youths aged 18 years or younger.