Wits mourns student death, demand intervention to tackle depression

Students voice their frustration over a perceived lack of support from the institution.
Students voice their frustration over a perceived lack of support from the institution.
Image: Raymond Preston

Students at the University of the Witwatersrand are voicing their frustration over a perceived lack of support from the institution after a male student committed suicide and a female student was rushed to hospital after attempting to end her life – reportedly within 24 hours.

Mpumelelo Tshabalala died on Wednesday night‚ his cousin Makhosini Buhali confirmed.

"It is with heavy heart to confirm the passing of my cousin brother Mpumi. I had high hopes that it was a silly mistake but after identifying your body‚ indeed you are gone Ntwanas‚" he shared on Facebook.

A friend‚ Matshaba Gontse‚ shared on Twitter: "Mpumi has done so much for me in such a short space of time. I'm struggling to come into terms with your passing. You were a friend‚ a leader and a mentor."

Tshabalala's friend‚ Lerato Moela‚ described him as "very ambitious.""I last saw him over the weekend and he was fine. As usual‚ we spoke about our life aspirations‚" Moela said.

Moela said he and Tshabalala had become friends in 2016 as they were both studying law.

"He told me that he had a fear of getting academically excluded because he has not been active academically‚ as he had been focusing a lot on his business ventures‚" he said.

"I advised him to deregister but he also feared losing his student accommodation‚" Moela said.Moela said Tshabalala was an A-student who graduated with distinction for his BA degree. He had not shown signs of depression‚ according to his friend."

He was a hard worker. He strived to do better academically‚ we used to study together. He did not take disappointment very well. He actually graduated with cum laude for his undergraduate degree‚ that's why he was a bit stressed about failing‚" Moela said.

"I am not sure fear of academic exclusion could have prompted him to commit suicide‚ there could be something deeper."The female student allegedly attempted to take an overdose of pills.

PanPan‏ @panda_pri94 shared: "#WitsSuicide this women had received an average of about 58% in engineering but someone was able to convince her that she was failing. She couldn't take it. She took every pill she had."

Students took to Twitter on Thursday‚ accusing the university of not hearing their pleas. They also claimed that suicides at Wits were common.

The students called on the institution's Counselling and Careers Development Unit to do more to deal with depression on campus.

Wits University was not immediately available for comment.

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