There are two peak ages in suicide cases: among young adults and the elderly. More women attempt suicide but more men complete the act. Men are also more likely to engage in methods that are most lethal.
The World Health Organisation statistics show that the average rate of suicide in Kenya stands at 10.8./100,000, males at 16.2/100,000 and that of females at 8.4/100,000. In Africa, the highest rate was in Mozambique, with an average of 17.3/100,000 population. Suicide is treated as a crime in Kenya (it is a misdemeanour, if found guilty, an imprisonment follows for a term not exceeding two years), thus there may be many unreported cases of successful and attempted acts.
In another study published in 2012, over 70 per cent of some 458 patients admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital were as a result of intentional poisoning, and were aged between 21 and 30. Most of the patients were young adults with relationship problems.
Several predisposing factors have been identified for the rising suicide incidences among Kenyan youth. Depression, mental illness, drugs and alcohol abuse, strained relationships, inadequate parenting, poverty, abuse, trauma, domestic violence, broken homes and chronic diseases. If we want to help prevent our young people from taking their lives it is important to recognize the warning signs and risk factors of suicide and know what to do if you want to help prevent tragedy. Find out more on these here.
When youth die by suicide they take the answers with them. But teens who attempt suicide and survive say that they wanted to die to end the pain of living. For them it is often a combination of events and issues that pile up and just become overwhelming. It makes them feel that they do not have the strength or desire to continue living.
Many youth show warning signs if they are considering suicide, and early intervention can save their lives. Often they just need a shoulder to lean on or somebody to listen. By reaching out and showing care and concern, many youth may be helped before reaching the point of feeling suicidal.
In Kenya, with the current slow growth of our economy, employment is hard to come by. Frustrations about money and jobs can lead to depression, drug abuse and alcohol addiction. When the young people feel inadequate and powerless they may be tempted to commit suicide. The fact is that although many people are unable to see alternatives to their problems or an end to their pain, they just want to make it all go away forever. Many more who consider taking their own life, really want to live.
Any suicidal thoughts or behaviours should be taken very seriously and addressed as soon as possible. If you notice the warning signs for suicide or the young person tells you directly that they are thinking about suicide there are a few very important things to do:
- Always show them that you are concerned – listen , ask about their feelings and avoid trying to come up with a solution to their problem.
- Ask directly about suicide – be direct without being confrontational; say “are you feeling so bad that you are thinking about suicide?”
If the answer to your question is “yes” or you think it is yes, go get help – call a crisis line, visit the school counsellor, tell a parent or take the teen to a clinic so that someone professional skills can help. You could also contact the following organisations for free support and counselling:
- Call LVCT Health on 1190 for free.
- Call Befrienders Kenya organisation on 0722178177, or email firstname.lastname@example.org