By Nqobile Tshili
A 17-year-old boy from Nkayi in Matabeleland North allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree at Mafela Primary School in Bulawayo’s Nkulumane suburb.
Mpilo Khumalo’s body was discovered by residents who alerted authorities.
He was a Form Three pupil at Nesigwe Secondary School in Nkayi.
Mpilo, who is said to have been suffering from mental illness, had visited his relatives who stay in Nkulumane suburb soon after Government imposed a national lockdown in April.
When a Chronicle news crew visited the site of the incident, police had just removed the body from the school in the presence of his relatives and local councillor Rodney Jele.
It is not clear how he managed to access the school but his brother said when they woke up on Tuesday morning he was not at home.
His brother, Xolani, said in the past few days Mpilo seemed distraught, stating that he wanted to return to his rural home in Madliwa Village under Chief Madliwa.
“He was staying with my sister in Nkulumane 12 but yesterday he came to where we stay in Nkulumane 5. He slept over when we woke up today, he was not home. We started looking for him and failed to find him.
Later on, we learnt that someone had committed suicide at Mafela Primary School and I discovered that it was my brother,” said Xolani.
He said while he did not expect him to end his life, he seemed troubled.
“On Monday he was not chatting with anyone; he was just quiet and would only respond when asked something. He wanted to return to our rural home having been in Bulawayo since the start of the national lockdown. He came here to seek medical treatment for mental illness and he had seemed to be doing very well but it’s unfortunate this has happened,” he said.
Clr Jele said it was saddening that a young life had been lost.
“This is very tragic and what makes it even more tragic is that this happened at a school premises. We urge residents to monitor the activities of their children, especially those with special needs. There should be a clear communication channel which can avert such incidents,” said Clr Jele.
Ingutsheni Central Hospital clinical director Dr Wellington Ranga said it was difficult to point out what could have led to the suspected suicide case.
He said in most incidents there was no link between mental illnesses and suicide cases.
Dr Ranga observed that depression could trigger suicide among mental patients and the general members of the public.
“For some people suicide has been seen as a way out from difficult situations which might not be the answer. I will urge for a strong support system for those with depression and creation of clear communication channels so that those with mental illnesses do not see suicide as a way to address problems,” said Dr Ranga. The Chronicle