“We are declaring freedom from death, violence, poverty, adultery, idolatry, sorcery , hatred and jealousy”
“Koch Goma is burning (on fire) because the devil has laid his foundation here. You can even witness for yourselves; very few people have turned up for this very important prayer yet they were mobilized for it”
“Suicide tendencies are not recent developments in the region. It was recorded sometimes back in 1935, which was caused by depression, post traumatic disorder and some are inherited from genes”
NWOYA-UGANDA: “We are not here to try to pray. Prayer is the only solution to premature deaths due to suicide cases in Koch Goma. We are declaring a day of Freedom. The land of Koch Goma is blessed from now onwards. We are declaring freedom from death, violence, poverty, adultery, idolatry, sorcery, hatred and jealousy” declares Pastor Patrick Okecha on Friday July 28, 2017.
Pastor Okecha is the chairman of the Gulu based “Born Again Faith Federation”. This is the social harm (Community Based Organization ‘CBO’) of the Pentecostal Churches of Uganda, which is operating in Koch Goma sub-county in Nwoya district to address community needs.
The Community Based Organization (CBO) has been conducting a research on suicide cases and premature death which are on the increase in Koch Goma sub-county. The CBO recommended that prayers for healing be conducted in all the nine villages in Koch Goma; and July 28 was just the launch of their initiative.
Local media report indicates that at least 21 people have died in Koch Goma as a result of suicide alone this year (2017).
According to the Sub-county Local Council III chairman, Mr. John Bosco Okullu, Koch Goma needs God’s favor through conducting prayers in order to save it from the devil’s claws.
“Koch Goma is burning [on fire] because the devil has laid his foundation here. You can even witness this for yourselves; very few people have turned up for this very important prayer yet they were mobilized for it”, laments the chairman.
Suicide is defined as a deliberate act of killing oneself while attempted suicide is an act of injuring oneself with intention to die.
Committing suicide is an offense under Uganda Penal Code act, section 210. The offense is referred to as misdemeanor, and if convicted, it is punishable by five years jail sentence.
Dr. Henry Oboke of Gulu University Medical School conducted a research in 2014 in Koro and Lakwana sub-counties in Omoro district in northern Uganda to find the leading cause of suicide.
He found out that the reasons why one commits suicide is complex, but it includes conflicts-the over 20 year Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war, losses, shame, illness and hardships. Beneath the act is lack of problem solving skills, impulsivity, drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness, among others.
“Suicide tendencies are not recent developments in the region. It was recorded sometimes back in 1935, which was caused by depression, post traumatic disorder and some are inherited from genes”, says Dr. Oboke.
Is suicide curable or preventable?
According to Dr. Oboke, prayers alone cannot stop suicide tendencies if it has elements of mental illness and therefore has no cure but can be controlled through medications and psycho-social support.
“If the depression is not so deep and the patient agrees to put all the problems depressing him before God, then prayers can work; but you need medication and counseling to redress the problem”, says Dr. Oboke.
According to records of Mental Health Unit of Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, between 700 and 900 patients with mental problems visit the unit on a monthly basis. However one hardly gets cases of attempted suicide reporting since they fear that police will arrest them.
According to Dr. Oboke, suicide in Koro and Lakwana has been controlled because they trained Village Helpers (VH) and Health Workers (HW) and deployed them in every parish whose main task is to identify families whose members are likely to commit suicide and give them psycho- socio support.