On Thursday, Aisha Nayiga burned to death her children and then set herself ablaze in Maganjo, Wakiso district, in one of the worst family tragedies in Uganda.
Four of the five children have in the meantime died, leaving a four-month old baby as the only survivor.
The woman reportedly rang her sister-in-law to inform her what she was planning to do and bid her farewell. But intervention came too late. According to relatives, Nayiga had been a difficult woman.
They allege that twice she tried to poison her husband and at one time wanted to lynch him, accusing him of having secretly married another wife.
The husband told this newspaper that he fled from the house two weeks before the fatal incident because she had set his clothes on fire.
The revelations indicate that the woman suffered from a serious mental illness and posed a danger to herself and those around her.
Despite the worrying signs, nobody around her took any action to either get treatment for the woman or protect the children.
This has a lot to do with Ugandaâ€™s culture, which sees domestic disputes as a familyâ€™s business nobody should interfere with.
It also has to do with the stigma and lack of knowledge about mental illnesses. People suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress are often considered to be possessed by evil spirits or demons.
The â€˜treatmentâ€™ is to either lock them up in the house or take them to a shrine. That belief, coupled with the acute lack of psychologists and psychiatrists, paves way for family dramas like the one in Maganjo to happen.
People should be sensitised about mental illnesses. Depression or stress as a result of a traumatic experience, such as the death of a beloved one, can befall anybody. People suffering from a mental illness should consult a psychologist and not a witchdoctor.
And the culture of covering up for crimes happening within the boundaries of a home should change, particularly when there are clear signs that the safety of other family members is at stake.
Sensitise people about mental illness