The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has in recent days received media enquiries about alleged incidents of suicide and/or attempted suicide by our students. We are also aware of some rumours/speculations that have been doing the rounds on social media about these alleged incidents.
To this end, UJ only has a record of a single incident involving the death of one of our students. We extend our condolences to the family, friends and fellow students of Ms Keleletso Mohlala, who passed away on Thursday, 23 August 2018. She was a student in our Department of Journalism, Film and Television. The loss of any life is deeply saddening, and as a University community we are all hurting. We urge members of the public to refrain from speculating about the cause of her death and allow the police to finalise their investigations. The unfounded speculations cause pain to the bereaved family and relatives.
At the University of Johannesburg, we are acutely aware that our students are under immense pressure. This pressure may be related to financial difficulties, academic challenges or relationship problems. At times these difficulties may become overwhelming to such an extent that students, and even staff members, may consider desperate measures. UJ has a number of support mechanisms in place to assist students and staff members who may be feeling desperate.
Our Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development (PsyCaD) offers assistance primarily to students (and to staff in times of crises) in numerous ways, which include a walk-in service (no appointment necessary) at all our offices on the different campuses, individual counselling sessions as well as our 24-hour Crisis Line (082 054 1137). Students get assistance from Campus Health and Student Affairs. University staff may also approach the Human Resource Division which has in place comprehensive Employee Wellness programmes.
The 10th of September 2018 is "World Suicide Prevention Day". The UJ Wellness Unit, in conjunction with the Careways Group (a new Employee Wellness service provider), will run awareness sessions on the four University campuses throughout the month of September.
We also have other interventions which include:
- Primary: Suicide awareness campaigns
- Secondary: Walk-in services, Individual and group therapy sessions, the 24-hour Crisis Line (082 054 1137) which is widely advertised to students.
- Tertiary: In severe cases, we arrange for hospitalisation. Typically, hospitalisation is at Akeso Clinic, Milpark Hospital or Helen Joseph Hospital. In cases where the student has attempted suicide (by whatever means), this is treated immediately as a medical emergency.
Each case is assessed on its individual merits, and depending on the seriousness of the problem, multiple people are involved in assisting and managing the student. Typically, the first responders would be Campus Protection Services or the psychologists at PsyCaD. Depending on the seriousness of the case, the student will be transported to the closest medical facility, where psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, among other qualified professionals, will take over the treatment and management of the case. In some cases, after discharge from the hospital, PsyCaD will take over the counselling. In severe cases and where a student refuses hospital treatment, we involve the family.
UJ continuously urges students and staff to make use of these support services.