By Mary Consolata Namagambe

Suicide is a global phenomenon. Worldwide surveys have consistently ranked the Scandinavian countries with their generous family-leave policies, low crime, free health care, rich economies and, yes, high income taxes — as the happiest places on earth. But this happiness has always been accompanied by a paradox: the happiest countries also seem to have the highest suicide rates.
One might question why this is so? Is it the long, dark winters facing Denmark that cause the problem?

opposed to Uganda, Danes don’t lack food, housing, medicine, health care, school etc., as all of this is provided for by the government, due to fact that Danes pay high taxes and in return, get the aforementioned benefits.

Considering Uganda being one of the poorest countries in the world with unemployment being around 65%, one could understand why Uganda is among the top 30 countries with the highest cases of suicide.

Everyone wants to live a decent life; where they can earn a decent income to sustain themselves. When someone fail to live and thrive in this standard, they get stressed and eventually depressed, and perhaps, they might be in a situation where discovering being HIV positive, where death naturally is the first thing they think of.

But the interesting aspect in all of this is how these two countries look at suicide.

In Denmark, attempts or wishes to commit suicide, are taking extremely seriously where one receives immediate treatment and medication at a hospital, as well as psychological help and support in order to deal with their internal rage.

In Uganda, suicide has a different story.

Suicide has become something to laugh about, something to share with your friends on whatsapp, by sending them pictures of the person killing them-self or commenting a funny joke beneath a shared article about a person committing suicide, mocking them.

And what is even more absurd is the fact that the police suggests to arrest people that survives suicide, and they are charged with attempted suicide, which is a misdemeanor punishable by a two-year imprisonment upon conviction. Police in so doing, says it wants to send a deterrent message to others who might contemplate similar plans.

The death of an American Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams by committing suicide in August last year, got the world wondering about how a person with such an incredible sense of humor and ability to make everyone laugh, could ever think of taking his own life.

The World Health Organization (WHO) released their first ever comprehensive report on suicide prevention. The report showed that the number of suicide deaths was on the rise with more than 800,000 people dying every year and with more than 75% of all the deaths happening in developing countries. It’s estimated that a person ends his/her own life every 40 seconds.

As much as people laugh about this and as much as the police want to imprison the suicide survivors, suicide is a growing public health concern in especially developing countries.

It is something that needs to be paid serious attention to as suicide has been discovered to be a major cause of death among people with mental illnesses whereby one in ten people will kill themselves. This indicates that suicide attempts may in fact at times be warning signs that one is developing a mental issue.

Thus, a person that is suicidal shouldn’t be blamed or judged because nobody attempts to take their life for fun. They don’t wish to die; they just want to end the pain, and the hurting, which means there is a problem that needs fixing and immediate attention and care, and not mockery or imprisonment.

 

MARY CONSOLATA NAMAGAMBE IS A UGANDAN-BORN LIVING IN DENMARK. 

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