Prominent digital marketer jumps to death from Tagore Apartments

Prominent digital marketer jumps to death from Tagore Apartments
Digital marketing specialist and General Manager at Hedge Marketing John Birungi Babirukamu is dead.

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | In a shocking turn of events, John Babirukamu, a seasoned digital marketing specialist and General Manager at Hedge Marketing, tragically passed away on Friday, May 31, 2024, at the age of 40, in what appears to be a case of suicide.

Reports indicate that Mr. Babirukamu committed suicide by jumping off from the fifth floor of Tagore Apartments building located in Kamwokya, Kampala.

Shortly before he took his life, Mr. Babirukamu told his family members that he had given life his all but “now I find myself with only emptiness.”

“I apologize for being an inconvenience in death as I was in life,” said Babirukamu on his family WhatsApp group at 11:41am on Friday 31, May 2024.

“I have given it my all and now I find myself with only emptiness,” he said, adding, “I do sincerely love you all, and hope you find it in your hearts to forgive me.”

“Kiss my nieces and nephews for me. They are the last joy that I held onto,” he added.

Family members attempted to contact him, but their efforts were unsuccessful as his mobile phone was turned off.

Moments later, he was pronounced dead by first responders.

The incident has sparked concerns that Mr. Babirukamu may have been overwhelmed by personal issues.

His friends, family, corporate colleagues, and marketing associations continue to mourn the loss of John Babirukamu, portraying him as a beacon of guidance and a pioneer in the digital communications realm whose light has now dimmed.

“John was the go-to-person in anything digital marketing. If you wanted the latest solutions in digital communication, John had them. John was collaborative and supportive. He was not a gatekeeper of information,” said Sheila Nduhukire on behalf of the Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU).

The Uganda Marketers Society (UMS) echoed similar sentiments, hailing him as a true pioneer whose influence has left an indelible mark on the digital and marketing landscape.

Albert Muchunguzi, another digital expert, shared his thoughts on his X handle, portraying John Babirukamu as a joyful individual who consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation, brimming with ideas and an infectious passion for his craft.

“News of your passing is shocking! You ran a good race, and your legacy will live on through all the young professionals you supported.” he said

With over 15 years of experience in the digital marketing field, Mr. Babirukamu was serving as the General Manager at Hedge Marketing, a full-service communications and marketing agency, at the time of his death.

He was in charge of business growth, client relationship management, strategy, talent management, and overall management oversight.

Prior to Joining Hedge Marketing as the General Manager, John Babirukamu served at QG group as Digital Director and had tremendous success managing brands like NTV Uganda, Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL), Equity Bank, BRAC, Sheraton Kampala among others.

Babirukamu will best be remembered for taking charge of a nearly nonexistent digital marketing unit at NBS and transforming it into Uganda’s most engaging online presence within just three years.

The successful digital marketing strategies, extensive social media presence, and the interactive NBS website seen today are all the results of John Babirukamu’s expertise.

He also served as Digital Communications Manager at MTN Uganda for two years after his tenure at Metropolitan Republic, a marketing and advertising agency.

Family members have confirmed Babirukamu’s death, describing it as a “tragedy.”

Detectives are investigating whether Mr. Babirukamu booked into the upscale apartments in Kamwokya on May 30 despite being a resident of Kiwatule also a Kampala suburb, with the intention of committing suicide, or if he was driven to do so by an unexpected, overwhelming situation.

“We will have to look at his phone records,” said a police source who preferred anonymity to speak freely.

Tagore Apartments is owned by Sudhir Ruparelia, a Ugandan business magnate and investor.

“Today, the Kira Road Police registered an incident of suspected suicide at approximately 11:40 AM at Tagore Living, located on Turnell Drive, Kamwokya, Central Division in the Kampala District,” Luke Owoyesigire, the Deputy Spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan Police confirmed.

“The incident was reported by the Manager of the premises. The deceased has been identified as John Birungi Babirukama, a 40-year-old ICT specialist and digital marketer residing in Kiwatule, Nakawa Division, Kampala,” he added.

His body has been conveyed to the City Mortuary at Mulago for a post-mortem examination.

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Police stated that further information regarding the exact cause of death will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Rising suicide rates in Uganda

Suicide cases have been increasing in Uganda in recent years. The country is ranked 17th globally for suicide rates, with 18.67 per 100,000 deaths attributed to suicide.

In 2019, police handled 456 suicide cases and reported 223 attempted suicides, indicating a significant increase in suicide-related deaths.

According to the 2021 Annual Crime Report, the Crime Investigation Department of the Uganda Police processed 615 suicide scenes, showing a continued rise.

The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety as major contributing factors to the prevalence of suicide.

Meanwhile, Dancun Tindimwebwa, a mental health expert at the Charlotte Foundation in Kampala, highlighted that factors such as trauma, stress, and stigma are among the primary contributors to mental illness, which can tragically culminate to suicide. He urged the public to prioritize mental health awareness and seek support when needed.