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UCT SRC: Suicides a result of lack of access to mental healthcare

Six students have died due to unnatural causes this year.

UCT's Jameson Hall. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - The University of Cape Town (UCT) Student Representative Council (SRC) says mental healthcare facilities are not easily accessible on campus.

Six students have died due to unnatural causes this year.

UCT vice-chancellor Max Price says if all of these are suicides, then it shows an increase compared to other years where there were, on average, one to two deaths by suicide.

SRC president Karabo Khakhau has attributed the deaths to the lack of inclusivity at the institution and the stresses associated with finances and studies.

Khakhau says student wellness services on campus is inaccessible and understaffed.

“Of all the services that we need to decommodify, that might just be the one. What we are trying to do as the SRC is, because we also live in a province that has a provincial and municipal government, lets make use of the City of Cape Town as well, talk to the Department of Health, create satellites that are easily accessible for students to have psychologists and social workers available.”

Price says one of the main interventions should be to identify students who are in trouble.

“One of the biggest challenges in stigma. People do not want to acknowledge they’re not coping. Look out for your buddies, look out for when someone isn’t coming to work, hasn’t got up in the morning to come to class. And then talk to them and say 'you can call these helplines anonymously, you can come and talk confidentially'.”

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