A team of psychiatrist in Uganda wants suicide decriminalized.
According to the Penal Code Act, anybody in Uganda caught trying to commit suicide is guilty of a felony and can be imprisoned for up to two years.
The bill of rights in the constitution also states that no one has the right to take the life of any person or of himself unless this has been done by the responsible state organ.
But Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi, Head of the Mental Health Department, in the Health Ministry argues that most often attempts for suicide stem from depression and other psychiatric related problems.
She noted that people who attempt to commit suicide must be assessed to ascertain the nature of their psychiatric problem, and if found unfit, should be rehabilitated and re-integrated into society.
Ndyanabangi noted that rather than criminalize suicide, emphasis should instead be placed on social safety networks and the traditional family unit in order to avert suicidal and homicide incidents.
The Ministry of Health is developing a program for suicide and homicide prevention. The program is intended to strengthen psychosocial services by training health workers on how to identify and attend to patients with psychiatric problems.
//Cue in: iWe are going to start#.
Cue out: #to police and so on.i//
The Psychiatrist's plea comes amid a number of suicide incidents that have rocked the country in recent days.
In one the most horrendous incidents, Margaret Kasande, a housewife in Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb, murdered her four daughters and also attempted to commit suicide.
Last week, Robert Isingoma a resident of Sheema in Bushenyi District hacked an entire family to death and was also lynched by the residents.
Dr. Fred Kigozi the Executive Director of Butabika Hospital, says suicide and homicide incidents can be prevented with increased public vigilance. He says most cases are manifested in the perpetuator's sudden change of behavior which results in depression and eventually they commit a crime.
Dr. Kigozi says that stress is as a result of family fights, financial losse, poverty, alcohol and drug abuse and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS.
Other people are driven to commit homicide because of family squabbles over Inheritance of property and religious fanaticism and indoctrination. Dr. Kigozi sites a vivid example of Joseph Kibwetere the cult leader of the restoration of the Ten Commandments who he he says was a patient at Butabika Hospital where he was treated for mental disorders prior to the mass suicide.
//Cue in: iPeople who are#
Cue out: #with the entire family.i//
The Butabika Hospital boss says that the exact number of people with mental health disorders is not known. But statistics from the outpatient Government hospitals show that 10