Despair and Suicide-Related Behaviours in Palorinya Refugee Settlement, Moyo, Uganda

This descriptive study illustrates the multitude of intertwining factors contributing to suicidal ideation and attempts, and deaths by suicide among South Sudanese refugees in Moyo/Obongi Palorinya settlements in northern Uganda. It was conducted from 2019 to 2020 due to escalating rates of suicide attempts and deaths by suicide noted in a rapid assessment by Lutheran World Federation mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) workers. This study aimed to better understand factors contributing to suicidal ideation and attempts among refugees, to tailor MHPSS interventions and prevent potential escalation of suicidality across the region, including nearby refugee hosting districts in Adjumani/Lamwo.


Data collection techniques included key informant interviews, focus group discussions, case studies and review of the lead author’s therapy recovery notes. The findings highlighted the following factors contributing to escalating suicidality among the refugees: war stressors (experiencing and witnessing violent acts), daily stressors, social fragmentation, normalised violence, social isolation, lack of economic opportunities, loss of assets and loss of confidence and hope, among others. The assessment found that the spiking trend of increased suicidal behaviour is apparently unique to Moyo/Obongi, compared to neighbouring settlements, but emphasises the need for monitoring and preventive interventions in neighbouring districts. The psychosocial as well as economic impact of a reduction in funding for MHPSS programming is underlined, emphasising the need for long-term funding to consolidate programme effects and respond to realities on the ground. Community-based psychosocial support interventions provided by Lutheran World Federation are described that have subsequently helped to mitigate and respond to the escalating trend in suicidality and reflections given to strengthen the ongoing response with lessons learned for other contexts.

Moses Mukasa Bwesige, Leslie Snider | 2021
In: Intervention: Journal of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Conflict Affected Areas | 19 | 2 | september | 224-232
Mental health, Prevention, Psychosocial support, Suicidality, Uganda