Suicidal Behaviours among Ugandan University Students: A Cross‑Sectional Study

Suicide remains the leading cause of death among university students often resulting from multiple physical and psychological challenges. Moreover, suicidal behaviours among students appear to have increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic according to some studies.To explore the prevalence and associated factors for suicidal ideation, suicide plans, and suicide attempts among university students in Uganda.Cross-sectional study data were collected from May to September 2021 from 540 undergraduate university students in south-western Uganda (363 males, mean age 23.3 years). Questions from the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) were used to assess suicidal ideation, while other bespoke questions were used to assess suicide plans and attempts. The survey also investigated the suicide attempt/plan method, location of the suicidal activity, and reason for not enacting the suicide plan. Three independent regression analyses were used to determine the factors associated with different forms of suicidal behaviours.The prevalence of past-year suicidal behaviours was 31.85% for suicidal ideation, 8.15% for suicide plans, and 6.11% for suicide attempts. Having a chronic physical medical condition increased the likelihood of having all forms of suicidal behaviours. Suicidal ideation was associated with having difficulty paying university tuition fees. However, being in the fifth year of university education, and feeling satisfied with current academic grades reduced the likelihood of suicidal ideation. Individuals feeling satisfied with academic performance appeared to be a protective factor against having suicide plans. Suicide attempts were associated with having a history of sexual abuse and having difficulty paying university tuition fees. The most common method used for attempted suicide was a drug overdose, and the most common location for attempted suicide was their homes.University students have prevalent suicide behaviours especially among students with a chronic physical medical condition, a history of sexual abuse, and problems paying university tuition fees. Based on the present study, for students at risk, universities should provide appropriate interventions such as life skills education and suicide prevention techniques.
Suicide, University students, University tuition fees, COVID-19, Chronic physical medical conditions, Uganda
Kaggwa, M. M., Arinaitwe, I., Muwanguzi, M., Nduhuura, E., Kajjimu, J., Kule, M., ... & Rukundo, G. Z. (2022). Suicidal behaviours among Ugandan university students: a cross-sectional study. BMC psychiatry, 22(1), 1-13.