Suicide is a global issue where over 1million people die by suicide every year, many will be under 30 years old. After road accidents, it is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year olds.
This equates to one death by suicide every 40 seconds. 79% of suicides happen in low and middle-income countries, where access to mental health care and services is often limited or does not exist. A sad fact, suicide is ultimately preventable.
Lately, there has been an increase in the rate of suicide and murder-suicide in Uganda where parents and partners are killing their loved ones and there is a general public concern about the growth of these acts.
The corona pandemic has been hard on everyone mostly low-income families which has led to the increase of depression which in turn leads to suicide and murder-suicide.
In December 2021, the Lango sub-region registered rising cases of suicides and murders where five cases of suicide and three cases of murder have been registered in one week. The most recent case registered was on Monday, where a man took his life over what is suspected to be domestic wrangles.
In a murder-suicide case, a 33-year-old man in Moyo district committed suicide after killing his 7-year-old nephew. Residents in the area said the man had been lately on a drinking spree.
Police are also investigating the death of a mother and her two children in Bwetyaaba village, Kayunga town council where it is suspected that Sylvia Nakato strangled the children eight-month-old Joanita Nanfuka, and 5-year old Jemima Nakabuye before hanging herself.
It is suspected that Sylvia had had domestic disputes with her husband leading to her killing not only herself but also her children.
Just like in the cases of Moyo and Kayunga districts, drug abuse and alcoholism, domestic disputes are among the leading causes of suicide in Uganda.
Others include but are not limited to; mental illness, depression or stress, domestic violence, effects of war, Illnesses such as HIV and Cancer.
Suicide and murder-suicide are very preventable and avoidable if action is taken early and swiftly.
Before prevention, the public needs to recognize the warning signs of suicide which can include; extreme mood swings, feelings of hopelessness, giving away possessions, losing interest in activities, talking about death or suicide, saying goodbye to family and friends, saying that they are a burden, withdrawing from friends and family among others.
Some of the ways listed by the World Health Organization to help prevent suicide and murder-suicide include; Not discounting the feelings of people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, looking at suicide as a cry for help, being a good listener to those going through hard times, encouraging relatives and friends thinking about suicide to get help, asking about their suicidal Feelings, not leaving depressed people alone, encouraging them to see a professional in mental health, knowing that secrets can kill and encouraging anyone suffering from depression, loss or mental illnesses to speak out.
The suicide mortality rate in Uganda has gone up by 4.55% in the last couple of years where the suicide mortality rate in males is 7.6% for males and 1.7% for females giving Uganda a 4.6% total suicide mortality rate as of 2019.
The Police and other authorities have always advised communities to work together in order to curb this rising evil in society.
The public is urged to be vigilant and report cases of suspected suicide and murder-suicide by calling and informing the authorities in time.
Anyone who could have witnessed any one facing under these life threatening situations, call on the Toll free line for the Child and Family Protection Unit at Police Headquarters, Naguru on 0800199195 or call Telephone contact number 0718792417 for quick intervention.