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The Pandemic Takes a Mental Toll on Refugees in Uganda

Psychologists say the contemplation of suicide takes place in stages. These include losing hope, planning on how to end their lives by either using an overdose, poison, ropes or falling from high elevations — and finally accomplishing the act. It is at the second stage that psychologists say people at risk must get the attention they need to prevent them going through with suicide. Professor Eugene Kanyinda is a member of the Medical Research Council unit of Uganda. “Illnesses for example like depression in our African culture are not recognized as mental illnesses,” Kanyinda said. “So, I think there’s a need for people to understand that, I mean, if you see a relative for example, talking of suicide, don’t take it lightly. I mean, the person probably is already entertaining those ideas.” Some warning signs psychiatrists said one should look out for are withdrawal, crying, self-isolation, loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities and lack of sleep. For survivors of suicide attempts, counsellors refer to them as heroes, to encourage them to think positively.