More Kenyans committed suicide last year compared to 2016. An overwhelming majority of the victims were men.
Some 421 suicides were reported to police nationally in 2017, compared to 302 in 2016, according to the 2018 Economic Survey.
The survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics found that in Kenya men were more likely to take their lives than women.
Of these 421 cases, only 91 were women.
Depression has been identified as the greatest cause of suicides in Kenya, beating violent relationships and other related abuses. This is according to a report by World Health Organisation, 2017.
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According to the report, thousands attempt killing themselves annually in what is always blamed on depression.
The report also shows that Kenya was ranked sixth with the highest number of depression cases among African countries.
However, in our setting, according to Elizabeth Gichimu, a clinical psychologist, most people will not reach out for help because of stigmatisation of mental illness.
According to her, there is little awareness on mental illness as well as how and where to seek help from. Suicidal ideation is one of the symptoms of depression. She said suicide among men is on the rise because they use more lethal means than women, therefore their suicide success rates are higher.
“Victims kill themselves by hanging either in their own houses or farms. Others, however, opt to drown, stab or burn themselves to death,” Gichimu said.
According to her, there are factors that have been linked to rise of suicide. They are economic factors, mental situation and lack of social support.
She said the cost of living has been on the increase and there is a general sense of hopelessness, as things get worse.
With most breadwinners being the men, they feel the pressure to provide.
Boys take cue from men and when they do not see that things are not working out the way they expected, some simply give up.
“We have a lot of young people who are unemployed despite having completed various courses and training in colleges and universities, coupled with the sense that they are failures, is one of the reasons to explain the increase,” Gichimu said.
She said women, by virtue of their nature as nurturers, tend to think through the effects of the aftermath of their suicide.