Ministry report reveals high suicide rates

Friday October 11 2019


By Joan Salmon

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), close to 800,000 people die by suicide every year, and for each death, there are more than 20 suicide attempts.
A report by Ministry of Health (MoH); Uganda National Institute Public Health (UNIPH) Quarterly Epidemiological Bulletin, indicates that Uganda has a high suicide rate of 18.67 per cent with men at a higher risk than women.

Mr Isaac Sembera, from the Criminal Investigation Departments headquarters, during the mental health dialogue yesterday, said the numbers are even higher as some suicide-related deaths are not reported with fear of incriminating them for murder.
Under the theme, “The importance of community, family and peer to peer support in the prevention of suicide”, it was shared that the human rights approach to ending suicide is to involve the community.
Ms Doreen Kanyesigye, a mental health advocate, said people commit suicide not because they are facing peculiar situations.

“It is just that we see it as a problem-solving strategy,” she said.
Ms Kanyesigye said one does not have to be a healthcare worker to offer help.
With depression and feeling lonely as one of the causes of suicide, lending a listening ear is critical in saving a life.

Ms Sarah Tushemerirwe, another activist, said there are several myths that need to be broken in as far as mental health is concerned. For example, some people say people that commit suicide are weak and selfish but Ms Tushemerirwe shared that when she contemplated suicide, she was actually thinking that her family would be better off without her.
Mr Sembera said police deal with several mental health cases and as such, while human rights activists may question why they send people to police cells without T-shirts, they discovered that many use them to hang themselves.

“We have also gone ahead to put ceilings in these cells so that the poles that they previously used will no longer be exposed,” he said.
Ms Kanyesigye said while family and community are vital in suicide management, there is need for persons battling with suicidal thoughts to practice self-care. “It is you learning to take care of yourself. In my case, when no else understood my pain, I got closer to God to find peace. That way, you come out strong..” she said.