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What is happening in Western? Officials alarmed by rising suicide and murder cases

By Jackline Inyanji | Published Sun, February 25th 2018 at 10:31, Updated February 25th 2018 at 10:40 GMT +3
A police vehicle ferrying the body of a woman killed by her step son over land feud [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

Police have raised concern over the rise in number of suicide and murder cases in Western Kenya.

At least 40 such cases were reported in the region between December 2017 to mid-February this year.

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Outgoing Western regional police coordinator, Moses Ombati, said the trend is alarming since most cases involve family matters.

Illicit affairs

“In a month, we receive over 20 cases of murder and at least 15 cases of suicide. Most of them are as a result of illicit affairs, mob lynch, family disputes and land,” Mr Ombati said.

He said most cases involve family members and several have been arrested and charged in court.

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He added that Kakamega, Vihiga and Bungoma counties are the most affected, with each recording over 10 cases in a month.

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology Psychologist Kenneth Otieno blamed the increasing deaths to poor communication in the family, lack of trust, infidelity, wife battery and money-related stress.

“Infidelity can cause psychological trauma especially in men since they tend to keep to themselves. This can trigger violent behaviour including murder, and spouses can hit out against their loved ones in an act of revenge,” Dr Otieno said.

To curb such cases, Dr Otieno recommends counselling and training of couples on how to manage anger. He also advises family members to talk about their wealth.

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“Imparting of morals should begin from childhood. There should also be education on human rights.

Socio-economic injustices

When things go awry, families should seek spiritual guidance and not keep issues to themselves. Also, courtship should be taken seriously to allow couples to understand each other,” Otieno said.

Chief Justice David Maraga said most murder causes in Western are related to land disputes, and has called on village elders and family members to help in solving them before they get out of hand.

“Local leaders and chiefs should solve land issues before they escalate and avoid more deaths,” Justice Maraga said.

He asked the judges to immediately deal with land cases that have been pending in court for more than five years.

Bishop Titus Khamala of Cornerstone Ministry in Kakamega said the cases are on the rise due to depression.

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“Many people live with untold stories and lack who they can share with. In this light many take drastic measures when they have come to the end.

Socio-economic injustices also contribute especially when one feels unworthy; that anger can be external or internal,” Khamala said.

He further noted that many of the cases are being recorded in families with traits of murder history and advised parents to instill good morals in their children at an early age.

“To resolve this, there must be an effort to improve on conflict resolution at the domestic level. Police should be a service and not a force. Counselling centres should be enhanced,” he said.