By Jackie Lumbasi
Is anyone concerned about the many people committing or attempting to commit suicide? In the past one month alone, there has been three cases uptown and downtown Kampala.
There could be many others that never make it to the media. That is cause for concern! Are people tired of living; is family, as a unit, falling apart; is lack of a job reason enough to end one’s life; is the end of a relationship reason enough to kiss the world goodbye?
A photo went viral recently on social media of a lady and her daughter. She posted it on her page and wondered if there was someone out there willing to marry her, with her daughter; she threatened to kill the daughter if that would pave the way for her to find a suitor! Humans have become something else!
In an interaction with a psychiatrist, Dr. Caro Birungi, on Capital FM’s Big Breakfast show, I learnt that Uganda ranks 17th amongst countries with high suicide cases worldwide. And that Uganda has about 45 psychiatrists – including the dead, non-practicing and those that left the country. There could be slightly over 20 practicing psychiatrists in Uganda.
With such figures, we need each other to overcome suicide. Everywhere around us, there is someone struggling with their career, relationship, an illness, business or family. All they need is a listening ear. But because everyone is busy trying to earn a living or taking care of themselves, this person finds him/herself ignored, isolated and lonely; that’s when hope is lost and suicidal thoughts are entertained.
Over the years, I have interacted with very many strangers; some of them shared with me their troubles in the hope that I could help. There are times when people look for strangers to pour out their heart to because they think it will work better since this person does not know them, their friends or family.
There are those that look for strangers because the people they call family do not pay attention to their needs. You have a sister or a brother that is in trouble, it could be at work or at home.
It is obvious to you because you can see they are not as happy as they used to be, he/she is losing weight, he/she suddenly prefers to spend time alone in a corner, you could have even chanced on him/her crying but you decided he/she capable of dealing with it. There are people that can deal with any situation personally but there are others that need joint efforts.
The best thing you can do in such situations is care to know what is going on and encourage that person to talk. You can even share personal experiences that would make this person feel like what they think is a mountain of problems is actually nothing.
Matters have been worsened by social media, which gives all of us an audience. You post a picture and there will be lots of comments: good, bad and lies. Haven’t you seen a ‘you look beautiful’ comment on a blurry picture where even the face can’t be seen?
And we will all say ‘thank you for appreciating’! Because one has 500 friends on Facebook, then they see no need to nurture physical friendships.
It is also on social media where life is glamorous and rarely do you meet people who honestly share how they are feeling. This is the place where we post ‘hmm, he has done it again’, and leave people speculating. If most of the comments are positive or inquiring on how well the ‘again’ was, then we won’t bother to say the ‘again’ meant being battered again or one stealing or cheating again or becoming a father again.
Woe unto you if it was a bothersome ‘again’ because you will be left unwilling to say the truth since it will spoil the mood and, as a result, whatever it is, it will continue to eat at you. It will become a painful wound and when you can’t take it anymore, you will choose death.
I encourage people to talk, share the good, the bad and the ugly; find that one person in your circle that you can be very candid with and it will always leave you feeling better and ready to see the next day.
The family still plays a pivotal role in anyone’s life. Let’s not allow our family members to perish when we could have been of help; we should all be there for one another. Don’t allow anything to replace family.