The Crime of Attempted Suicide in Uganda: The Need for Reforms to the Law

  • Emma Charlene Lubaale Department of Public Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Keywords: Attempted suicide, Uganda, insanity defence, mental health


Much has been written on the subject of suicide in Uganda, in particular the need to decriminalise it. However, very little is devoted to the issue of whether, in the first place, this offence is grounded in the principles of criminal law. In addition, hardly any literature is devoted to the exploration of defences capable of being relied on to ensure that when persons who attempt suicide are charged, due regard is given to the mental health issues surrounding their conduct. The purpose of this article is twofold. First, to demonstrate that the offence of attempted suicide under Ugandan law lacks foundation in the principles of criminal law. This conclusion is based on the fact that the offence of suicide is not proscribed under Uganda’s laws; therefore, the conduct of attempting to commit suicide cannot constitute an offence. Secondly, to argue that the defence of insanity in Uganda, if widened, could found a basis for persons who attempt suicide to be acquitted by reason of mental illness.