September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month — a time to raise awareness on this stigmatized, and often taboo, topic. The pastoral care unit at the University of Zululand hosted a webinar on rape and suicide. This webinar took place on Tuesday 21st September.
Bishop Makhanya explained that the UNIZULU Vice Chancellor Professor Xoliswa Mtose, at the beginning of this year, put together a pastoral care unit under her office specifically to deal with issues of Gender Based Violence because it is so rife.
In his opening address Bishop Makhanya said that UNIZULU takes gender based violence very seriously. “It is on top of this university’s agenda. This university has demonstrated by approving a sexual harassment and gender based policy which aim at creating a safe campus environment and also showing solidarity in GBV and taking a stand against GBV. We have invited our guest today Bongi Zengele to take us through rape and suicide.” Said Bishop Makhanya.
In addition to shifting public perception, UNIZULU used this month to spread hope and vital information to people affected by suicide. The speaker on the day Bongi Zengele who is currently a lecturer at the university of KwaZulu Natal. She started her talk by playing a video by Loyiso “Madoda Sabelani” just to put everyone in the context of what is happening in our country. , “ A big thank you to the university of Zululand for trying to conch entice us as academia. This problem that we are facing is not only affecting communities but it is affecting our lives as well in our institutions of learning.”
The role discourse provided us with the role of professionals, pastoral care to curb the spread of GBV by creating awareness on suicide and rape search for strategies, techniques and skills to engage at higher educational level.
During this pandemic, it could be harder to notice warning signs of suicide. Look out for these signs:
- No longer responding to texts or calls.
- Withdrawal from relationships or normal activities.
- Changes in tone or language when talking, texting or posting online.
- Changes in energy levels or appetite.
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol.
What can you do if you think someone may be considering suicide?
- Ask them.
- Keep them safe.
- Be there.
- Help them connect.
- Follow up.
Suicide Prevention Month is an initiative focused on raising awareness about suicide, how to support a friend or peer, and make you aware of campus resources. We encourage you , to speak up, reach out, and be informed.
- Precious Shamase