A grade 11 learner at Sonyongwane High School in Creighton, southern KwaZulu-Natal, took her own life on Friday, leaving a note detailing the torment she endured at the hands of other learners.
The social development of KwaZulu-Natal Nonhlanhla Khoza, MEC, expressed her sadness after learning that the 17-year-old had allegedly committed suicide because she was told she was ugly and was constantly teased about the shape of her head.
According to the department, the learner left school after celebrating with learners who got their matric results on Friday. “It is heartbreaking to lose a child as a result of bullying at school. We have repeated incidents where children take their own lives as a result of bullying. Children cannot contain humiliation,” she said.
Ward councillor Mthobisi Dlamini expressed his condolences to the teen’s family. “This incident has affected the entire community because it is something that has never happened before. We were shocked that the child committed suicide after intense bullying at school,” said Dlamini.
He said that if they had known about the child’s situation, they would have intervened sooner to prevent such a tragedy.
According to Khoza, some children are bullies, and parents should be aware that their child may be a victim and have conversations with them about mental health.
“This is cruelty that all parents should be careful of — the children must be protected at all times and we must be able to help them to deal with depression they encounter as a result of bullying.”
She sent social workers to the family and school to help with psychosocial issues.
Depression has been identified as the leading disease burden among adolescents, with suicide ranking second among 15 to 29-year-olds worldwide.
“It is important that we all understand the signs of depression and talking about mental health is key to preventing suicide. Prevention of teenage suicides starts with a better understanding of the symptoms of depression,” she added.
The education department did not respond immediately to inquiries.