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Take concrete steps to reduce suicide cases

By Editorial | July 29th 2021

Kenya has recorded an exponential rise in suicide cases, even among men in uniform.

In 2019, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics reported 196 cases of suicide. According to a recent report by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, at least 483 people killed themselves between March and June this year. The youngest victim was nine years while the oldest was 76. No doubt, these are tentative numbers for, indeed, some cases go unreported.

This state of affairs is bad enough to get our heads up in alarm, more so after the Kenya Mental Health Task Force (2019) recommended the establishment of a Mental Health Commission, and that mental health illness be declared a national emergency of epidemic proportions. That speaks of a deep-rooted problem that many Kenyans have kept under wraps for far too long, but now needs to be addressed.

Doctors and psychologists attribute suicides to many causes, chief among them mental illness brought about by several factors which, unfortunately, are detected when it is too late. While many Kenyans blame Covid-19 for the rise in the cases, the impact of failed marriages, failed businesses, job losses, financial hardships and lose of hope, all which lead to depression, cannot be ignored anymore. A 2017 report by the World Health Organisation on the global mental health situation placed Kenya fifth among African countries with the highest number of depression cases. It is estimated that at least 311 people commit suicide in Kenya every year.

With only 100 psychiatrists and 10 hospitals that can handle mental illnesses amid the rising cases, the government should come out of its passive state and pay more attention to this emergent problem. The Mental Health Task Force’s recommendations should be implemented to save those suffering mental illness in silence.

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