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Rest in peace, John Babirukamu

RIP: John Babirukamu

RIP: John Babirukamu

Last Friday I drove past Tagore Living in Kamwokya and noticed the crowd and commotion around the place, but I was in a hurry to get somewhere, and paid it no attention.

An hour later, someone sent me a message informing me that John Babirukamu, a renowned digital marketer, had just jumped to his death at the apartments, and suddenly the crowds I had seen made sense. I did not know Babirukamu personally, but I felt an overwhelming sadness imagining the amount of unhappiness and depression that could push a man of his age (40) and relative success over the edge.

I thought of the people I personally know that are battling depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, and felt a deeper resolve to help them.

Men tend to bottle it all up and not display any signs of weakness, but I believe more men than women suffer from depression because of society’s high expectations and high bars set for their success. Women are simply more vocal. The reason I sought a deeper relationship with God beyond just religion, was my battle with depression, which seemed to be worsening by the day.

It had become normal for me to take bathroom breaks from work, just to go and ‘cry it off’. It took the keen eye of a workmate, who later became my sister, to notice that I was ‘off’ and that I was taking these weepy breaks.

She staged an intervention, setting up an appointment with a young pastor in town to counsel me. What started 22 years ago as a counseling/cryathon session before this young woman ended with me giving my life to Christ Jesus, and I will never forget that feeling of being light on my feet and that peace the Bible talks about, that surpasses human understanding.

So, when someone says they are depressed, I pay attention. Don’t tell people to ‘snap out of it’ – they can’t. Get them professional or spiritual help.

Allow them to talk to you, pray with you and cry on your shoulder when it gets overwhelming. Do not trivialize what they feel and, could our government please stop criminalizing suicide?

One commits a crime but dies by suicide; let us understand mental health.

malita@observer.ug

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