Gulu Town, the Capital of Northern Uganda is holding the first marathon to create awareness on suicide and mental health. The event is organized by Gulu Regional Referral Hospital under the theme ‘’Working Together to Prevent Suicide’’.
Paul. JJ. Nyeko, the Central Organizing Committee Chairperson says the idea rose from the background that there is still alarming cases of suicide in Acholi and Uganda which is largely attributed to mental health.
He says mental health experts in Gulu thought wise of identifying an activity that will help to trigger off a discussion on suicide which many people still fear.
Nyeko explains that many find it easy to burry a person who committed suicide than helping the situation.
Nyeko added that the day also seeks to create awareness and also start a process of breaking silence on suicide and mental health in Gulu and Northern Uganda.
In Gulu, Nyeko says statistics indicate that 35 cases of suicide which is a mental case are reported yearly.
Nicholas Opiyo, a mental health expert at Gulu Main Hospital disclosed during an interview that suicide is still alarming and challenging with over 629 attempted cases recorded yearly in Acholi Sub Region.
In Uganda over 1333 people attempt suicide yearly. Globally 800,000 people die of suicide yearly according to statistics from World Health Organization.
Fred Oboma, a mental health doctor at Gulu Main Hospital says suicidal minded person presents with isolation from friends and family members and community, over talking about death and abnormal actions.
Isaac Ogwal, a clinical psychologists at African Centre for Torture Victims, a local health organization in Gulu says suicidal minded people sometimes feel excited to take other people`s lives first.
Derrick Kizza, the Executive Director Mental Health Uganda says suicide is real and a number suicide cases remain undocumented because people fear to report cases of suicide and attempted suicide to police for fear of being held accountable.
According to the penal code, a person who attempts suicide is to be incarcerated and in chapter 20, under offences connected with murder and suicide, any person who attempts to kill him or herself commits a misdemeanour.
Pat Larubi, the communication officer at Mental Health Uganda says more actions 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.
More than 300 people have booked for their tickets ahead of the marathon on Saturday this week. A ticket costs ten thousand shillings.
It will be flagged off by John Baptist Odama the Archbishop of Gulu and participants will 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.
Other guests will include health experts from Gulu Main Hospital, St Mary`s Hospital Lacor and district leaders.