2022 began and is ending with stories of children committing suicide in Uganda. The stories run in the mainstream news media. One of those stories was run on the Uganda Police Force portal indicating the suicide death of 11 year old Arafat Kasule a Primary 4 pupil at Kabira UMEA primary school. There is growing concern of such cases and an urgency to intervene and support children’s mental health. But what is driving them to an early self inflicted death:
The Economy swing
As the country crawls through a tough economic period and parents are unable to meet the needs of their children. Many children feel rejected and are squeezed between a hard rock and cliff. Unfortunately some jump. For instance the case of a child who asked for a mathematical set and both parents pointed to lack of money and the child committed suicide. Yafesi Twikirize of Rukiga district in January committed suicide after his parents failed to pay tuition. Anthropologist Ronald Rohner’s argument that rejection is a psychological malignancy that spreads throughout a child’s emotional system, wreaking havoc. Is best justified here when parents due to economic constraints fail to meet their obligations and sometimes become helplessly cruel to their children. Causing the children to get mentally depressed and emotionally bruised.
COVID side effects
Uganda had a special scenario during the COVID 19 pandemic. For two years schools were closed amidst the economic constraints and shock waves. In this period many girls got pregnant and many children go involved in harmful activities such as drugs. The period so parents sink into depression and to some extent negate their role which some confessed was often pushed at teachers and schools. The outcomes led to a group of young people who became hopeless and see no future. Another category have had to repeat class moreover they are lagging behind in performance. Others are finding it hard to adjust to school again. Failure to fit in school again and the gloom that leans of the future of some children is stimulating suicidal activity.
Poor Quality Education and Teachers Moral Status
The quality of education in Uganda is not one to cause a cheer but a jeer sometimes. While it is known the rates for private school education are hinged on abnormal profits which has got worse in the post COVID period. Public schools have the Universal Education model which is not so rewarding. However both graduates in Ugandan schools have to see persons who were educated roaming jobless and its a puzzle regarding where they are heading to as well. Moreover teacher strikes in public schools just after the COVID maze spell poor performance and quality in learning. The morality of some of the teachers has also created a scenario especially for the girl child where marks are for sex. Some cases of teachers impregnating pupils and students have continued to feature in the media and grapevine. Children who have no hope in education and find no hope in what the future hold with the addition of being sexually molested cannot be in good mental state.
Worldly Manipulations and sexual harassments
Behind the good byes parents give to children as they drop them off to school, is a whole wide experience which could go wild is their fellow students sexually harass them or initiate them into conduct that would harm them. A number of pupils and students who are manipulated or harassed never talk about it because of the shame they feel and fear. Failure to open up leads to an emptiness that starts getting filled up with negative emotion that eventually could cause suicide. And this does not only happen at school but also when parents are not looking and put their children in the hands of caretakers who are not well investigated prior to getting the job. The worst case scenario is relatives who are perverted. Such children are being led closer to ending their lives.
Uganda and many countries facing the same economy crisis plus post COVID side effects that are affecting children’s mental state need to beef up on counseling services, social and emotional mentorship programs and parent to child build up sessions. Parents and schools have to also pay attention to the kind of people they recruit to handle the children’s affairs; background checks are crucial.