More people are reporting to mental health facilities testifying
that they have either contemplated suicide or attempted it. This is according
to Janet Kantarama the Executive Director Safe Places Uganda a private Mental
Illness treatment centre.
Kantarama also says that the
number of suicides reported in the media and informally through social networks
is on the increase.
Kantarama who is also a psychologist was reacting to the latest
data by the World Health Organisation on suicide where it’s noted that every 40
seconds, one person takes their own life.
According to the data released on Tuesday, WHO put the number of
deaths due to suicide worldwide at 800,000 annually.
Last year, while 79% of the world’s suicides occurred in low- and
middle-income countries, high-income countries had the highest rate, at 11.5
per 100 000.
Kantarama says that apart from increasing mental illness like
bipolar and depression whose symptoms may include attempting suicide, she says
the reason behind the figures especially in African countries could be because
health care activists are putting efforts into making the public understand
that being suicidal is an illness and therefore they should be able to report
it when it happens or seek care when someone shows signs that they might
attempt to end their own lives.
She said at her treatment centre for instance, while the highest
number of adult patients is of those battling addiction, many of those that
report with bipolar disorders and depression report having suicidal thoughts or
have attempted it. Kantarama though adds that the challenge is that many
Ugandans still hold mental illness with ridicule and stigma.
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However, according to the WHO report, though on an increase globally,
suicide is more prevalent in high-income countries and is the second leading
cause of death among young people whereby girls of 15 to 19 years of age.
In Uganda, a study done by Dr. Rogers Kasirye whose results were
released last year shows a similar revelation whereby more girls reported
suicidal ideation than boys whereby they found girls who have been raped, those
that have experienced physical child abuse, those that had acquired a sexually
transmitted infection and those that have lived on the street to have ever
contemplated or attempted suicide.
Kantarama says that the government needs to use such evidence from
research and data to implement policies that change the status since for her up
to 30% of the population have a mental challenge and yet many are not aware
because mental illness tends show signs when in very advanced stages.