By Patience Aber
Over 60 people in the Acholi sub-region have committed suicide since the year started, reports show. Residents of Abwoch village in Koch Ongako County, Guru District, on Tuesday woke up to a rude shock, after one of their own, Christopher Opiru, 32, hang himself.
Opiru is one of the many people in northern Uganda who have resorted to ending their lives. Beatrice Acen, the wife to the deceased, says Opiru had threatened her with death on several occasions.
“He kept threatening us that one day he would kill me and the children and then commit suicide because he was tired of life,” Acen said.
She says on that fateful day, Opiru took a lot of beer and upon returning from the drinking spree at around 8:00pm, he forced her and the children to return to her mother’s place.
“When he returned, he told me to go and get the goats from the bush. Since I was cooking, I refused. He became bitter and chased me away with the children. We went to my mother’s home, but when we returned in the morning, we found him dead,” she says.
Opiru’s death brings to 22, the number of people who have committed suicide in Gulu district alone since January, according to the cases reported at the Gulu Central Police Station.
Unofficial reports recorded by local leaders in Adilang sub-county in Agago district put the number at 28.
Joseph Bodo, the Dog-Dago village LC1 chairperson in Adilang sub-county, Agago district, says most of the cases stem from domestic violence, citing the example of a resident, who burnt to death after he set his hut ablaze, following a disagreement with his wife.
In Pader district, the Police have recorded 10 cases of suicide since the year began.
Kizito calls for collective responsibility, adding that if people learn that somebody is having suicidal tendencies, their relatives should report to the Police, local leaders, health workers, cultural and religious leaders, so that the individuals are given treatment or psycho-social support.
Kenneth Oketta, the prime minister of Ker Kwaro Acholi, has called on the local leaders in the different communities in Acholi sub-region to take a lead in counselling people to reduce on the increasing suicide cases.
Oketta says people should not wait for the Government, NGOs and the head of the cultural intuitions in the region to carry out counselling.
Additional reporting by Fancy Aromorach and Wilfred Lamony