By John Vianney Ahumuza
The two recent suicide cases in schools are alarming. It was first the student of Trinity College Nabbingo then Alex Akugizibwe aged 17, of St. Adolf Secondary School in Kyenjojo district also committed suicide a week later.
These incidents seem to be ice breakers of a wider challenge that young Ugandan students seem to be facing. It is true that many schools seem to have excelled in employing a multiplicity of approaches to producing best results. Interventions such as using resourceful persons, continuous assessments and offering free bursaries have been employed.
However, what seems to be lacking is continuous counselling of learners. Students need a lot of psycho-social support to cope up with varieties of challenges at hand, which may range from adolescence issues, family issues and sexual harassments.
These issues require professionally trained counsellors in schools to speak to students regularly. It is indeed paramount from this context that schools must adopt holistic approach to education to nurture all round learners that includes meeting other needs of a student apart from the academic aspects.
This is because, for instance, when depression or bipolar disorder affects you or someone you care about, you know that one symptom of these illnesses may be feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide probably an issue that has made some of the students take their precious lives.
However students may overcome depression tendencies by putting in practice the following:
- Tell a trusted family member, friend, or other support person, someone you can talk with honestly. Try not to be alone when you feel this way. This may mean sitting quietly with a family member or friend, going to a support group or going to a hospital.
- Share your challenge with a school matron or house master. Suicidal thinking can be treated. When suicidal thoughts occur, they are your signal that, more than ever, you need help from a professional.
- Know that you can get through this. Promise yourself you will hold on for another day, hour, minute, or whatever you can manage.
- Know that you are not the first person nor will you be the last person to face such a challenging situation. The fact that others have gone through such should strengthen you that there is a possibility to overcome the challenge.
- Engage in prayers and always remember that our life is a gift from God. Even if the whole world abandons us, God is always there for us.
I strongly believe that schools could save many lives of students by intensifying counseling services. Higher institutions of learning must equally avail these services since suicidal cases have recently been recorded.
We must all be our sisters and brothers’ keepers as Holy Scriptures constantly remind us.
The writer is a lecturer at the Uganda Christian University - Mukono