For 17 years, Joseph Ajal’s marriage was a nightmare with a wife who had a psychiatric problem that most often forced her to start smashing breakable plates and cups until she would ensure that non is left.
A 6 time international award winner, of out standing human resource planning and development in Africa, Joseph describes his wife as a very loving wife, a very successful business entrepreneur presiding over two successful business concerns, a great cook and an extremely possessive wife of a husband, who would not allow him talk to any female be it a sister during her presence.
Sinai, his wife, bitterly blamed her husband for taking her to a psychiatric hospital yet for her she inwardly knew she was normal save for the ‘simple episodes of getting extremely angry’ which to her, were just mere temporary experiences.
On reaching the hospital, after admission, the Dr. told Joseph that if he doesn’t convince the wife to be treated, she would kill him and the children. The couple had sired three children. That day it took five strong men to subdue her so that the Dr. could administer 5 shots of a sedative drug to calm her down.
After discharge, she refused to see a recommended therapist, refused to take the medicine and one fateful morning she, in an unusual manner, bade a peculiar farewell to each of the three children hugging each for close to fifteen minutes before letting them board their father’s car for school.
Quoting a recent New Vision story that stated that 14 million Ugandans, suffer from mental illness, Mr. Ajal decried the deplorable situation of Uganda, a country with a population of 45 million people having only 53 psychiatric doctors.
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In line with WHO commitment, Joseph calls on the government of Uganda to increase on the funding of ministry of health from the current 6% of the national budget from which mental health gets a meagre 1% to bigger percentage so as to mitigate the spiral problem of mental health.
Mr Joseph Ajal narrates how he lost his dear wife to Suicide. “Her violent mood swings when they were still dating did not set off alarm bells”. And when they got married 17 years ago, Joseph Ajal and his wife, settled into life with no inkling that years later, a mental illness would have a ripple effect on the family. She died in March this year, taking her own life.
Every suicide is a tragedy, and to some degree a mystery. Suicide often stems from a deep feeling of hopelessness. The inability to see solutions to problems or to cope with challenging life circumstances may lead people to see taking their own lives as the only solution to what is really a temporary situation, and most survivors of suicide attempts go on to live full, rewarding lives.
What Does WHO say
WHO recognizes suicide as a public health priority. The first WHO World Suicide Report “Preventing suicide: a global imperative”, published in 2014, aims to increase the awareness of the public health significance of suicide and suicide attempts and to make suicide prevention a high priority on the global public health agenda.
It also aims to encourage and support countries to develop or strengthen comprehensive suicide prevention strategies in a multisectoral public health approach. Suicide is one of the priority conditions in the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) launched in 2008, which provides evidence-based technical guidance to scale up service provision and care in countries for mental, neurological and substance use disorders. In the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2030, WHO Member States have committed themselves to working towards the global target of reducing the suicide rate in countries by one third by 2030.