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Gulu Marathon to Raise Awareness on Suicide Prevention

The post-conflict region has registered the highest number of suicide cases over the years. A number of cases have been attributed to alcoholism, trauma and domestic violence.

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Gulu district is set for a marathon event to create awareness about suicide and mental health. The idea stems from an alarming number of suicide cases in the Northern Uganda District, as well as several other parts of the Acholi sub-region. 

The post-conflict region has registered the highest number of suicide cases over the years. A number of cases have been attributed to alcoholism, trauma and domestic violence.  

Nicholas Opiyo, a Mental Health Expert at Gulu Main Hospital told URN that over 629 attempted cases of suicide are recorded annually in the region. More than 1,330 people attempt suicide annually in Uganda, while the Global figure stands at 800,000 people according to statistics from the World Health Organization.   

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It is on the basis of this background that Gulu Regional Referral Hospital is organizing the run to be held on Saturday, October 12, 2019, under the theme ‘’Working Together to Prevent Suicide’’. 

The marathon, to be flagged off by John Baptist Odama, the Archbishop of Gulu will see participants race through the streets of Gulu municipality starting from the Gulu District Council Hall to Customers Corner-Layibi Corner-Cereleno-Acholi Road and finally Pece Stadium.  More than 300 people had confirmed participation by Friday afternoon. 

Paul. JJ. Nyeko, the Central Organizing Committee Chairperson is optimistic that the activity that will trigger a discussion on how to deal with suicide and supporting communities to recover from the problem.    

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Nyeko added that the day also seeks to create awareness and start a process of breaking silence on suicide and mental health in Gulu and Northern Uganda. 

Fred Oboma, a mental health doctor at Gulu Hospital says suicidal minded persons present with isolation from friends and family members and community, over talking about death and abnormal actions. 

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Isaac Ogwal, a clinical psychologist at the African Centre for Torture Victims, a Gulu-based health support organization says that suicidal minded people sometimes feel excited to take other people`s lives first. 

Derrick Kizza, the Executive Director of Mental Health Uganda says that a number of suicide cases remain undocumented because people fear to report cases of suicide and attempted suicide to the police for fear of being held accountable. 

Pat Robert Larubi, the communication officer at Mental Health Uganda says more action should be taken to promote opening-up conservations around mental health so that people can speak out about their experiences of mental health problems like depression, anxiety, bipolar and addiction and also seek help.