Schools champion fight against stress, addiction

Students attend the public lecture at Kyambogo University on June 8, 2022. PHOTO/ PROMISE TWINAMUKYE

What you need to know:

  • Dr Senyonyi, a psychologist, urged the students to always seek help when they start contemplating suicide.

Greg, a Kyambogo University student, contemplated ending his life last year. 
At the time, he was battling addiction to alcohol, drugs and pornography.
“There were days I would take 17 bottles of beer. Yes, in just one day. This was how bad my drinking problem was,” he told Daily Monitor on Wednesday. 

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For drugs, he was mostly addicted to marijuana. 
During the Covid-19-induced lockdown, Greg said he started watching sexually explicit material on his laptop. 

After a while, he realised that what he was doing was wrong and started thinking about killing himself. 
“Before I proceeded with the plan [taking an overdose], I called my mother on the phone to hear her voice one last time. As I talked to her, the guilt of what I was about to do set in and I opted to discard the idea,” he said. 
It was after seeking counselling services from his university that Greg said he was able to get his life back on track. He has managed to stay away from drinking, drugs and pornography in the last six months. 

Besides counselling, the student said he stayed away from things that may trigger him to return to the addictions.
In the last few months, there have been several cases of students taking their own lives. 
The recent case is that of Josephine Namuli, a 17-year-old student at Wanyange Girls’ Secondary School in Jinja District who committed suicide by hanging on Tuesday. 
Another story that made rounds in March was that of Brian Wetaka, a former student of Kyambogo University who committed suicide  due to stress. 

What can be done? 
On Wednesday afternoon, the staff of Kyambogo University held a public lecture intended to prevent and discourage suicide among students. The discourse was held under the theme, hope never runs dry.
The Vice Chancellor of Kyambogo University, Prof Eli Katunguka, urged students to remain hopeful even when situation is very bad.  

He attributed the recent suicide cases to the many pressures young people are going through including relationships, academic failure, high levels of unemployment in the country, alcohol and drug abuse, which make them think that life is not worth living anymore, hence the need to end it. 
“You [students] need to understand that however difficult life is, you don’t have to take it. The [bad] situation cannot remain like that all the time. So, just stick there and believe that things will improve,” he said. 

Dr Ruth Senyonyi, a couselling psychologist, said mental disorders including depression and bipolor disorder, also contribute to suicide cases among students in the country. 
“This suicide thing is what I sometimes term as an invisible mental injury which can turn out to be very devastating. Suicide is preventable through raising awareness which in the end reduces stigma while encouraging action against the habit,” Dr Senyonyi said. 

She said the people contemplating suicide tend to isolate themselves and often wish death upon themselves.
Dr Senyonyi says one’s passing from suicide can take an overwhelming toll on their families. 
She urged individuals with suicidal thoughts to always seek therapy and counselling from professionals.

Suicide
Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that while more than 700,000 die by suicide every year, ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide used globally. 

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