In recent days, cases of people taking their own lives and others killing their relatives have been increasing across the country. Mental health experts predict that more young people will be diagnosed with anxiety and depression, as well as other mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders and eating disorder.
Additionally, research has found that loneliness and isolation can greatly affect a young person’s mental health. However, experts were able to find the prevalence of depression to be relatively high among young people who are out of school at 36.0% compared to young people who go to school at 20.6%. Additionally, out-of-school youth had significantly higher anxiety scores compared to their school-going peers (27.7% vs. 19.1%, respectively).
While Kenya joins other nations in commemorating Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday, September 10, 2023, fears have arisen that the number of suicides in Siaya County is on the rise. Siaya Police Commander Michael Muchiri said of the 39 suicide cases in the county between September 2022 and September 2023, 32 were men, three were women and four were children between the ages of eight and 12.
“These cases of people committing suicide are due to a mental health problem that is becoming more and more serious, some of the causes being the use of drugs, financial challenges and difficulties in life and family conflicts including disputes over farms,” said Mr Muchiri.
Siaya has been hitting the media headlines for the issue of people committing suicide. On July 7, 2023, a police officer from Bondo police station, Michael Kyalo, shot his wife before he also shot himself.
“Sometime at 35:35 in the morning, police officer Michael Kyalo, who had an AK-type rifle with identification number 5524195, shot his wife by the name of Brenda Kangai Kimanizikwa in her left thigh and then he also shot himself,” the police report said. The wife died a few days later.
“The officer shot himself under the jaw and he died on the spot,” the police report said on July 7.
It was alleged that the officer and his wife had domestic differences. Bondo police commander Ibrahim Kosi referred to the police who carried out the act that in his normal life he seemed a calm person.
“The policeman was a calm person. In the morning he had gone to maintain security at the court before returning home where he had a disagreement with his wife and took that step. We have started an investigation,” said Mr Kosi.
Three months before the incident, an officer of Siaya Kaduol police station in Gem constituency shot himself and died on the spot. Constable Maurice Chillison Kisiagi used his service rifle to kill himself.
“The policeman had served at the station for one month after being transferred there from Kisumu in February 2023,” Gem sub-county police commander Cecilia Kemboi told reporters.
In April 2023, another case was reported where an 18-year-old Form One student committed suicide in the village of Obaga in Sakwa South in the Bondo sub-county. The body of David Okoth Otieno who was a student of Orengo High School was found hanging from a tree. Nyaguda ward chief, Mr Collins Abuto, said the villagers informed the police about the tragedy. The Siaya Police Commander explains more about the statistics of people taking their own lives.
“Statistics show that the number of men is 82 percent, followed by children at 10 percent and the number of women who commit suicide is eight percent,” said Mr Muchiri who suggests that all stakeholders in society including religious groups, government, leaders and expert’s mental health should find a solution to end this monster.
And activist Shirleen Otieno, says it is imperative that this issue of people taking their own lives be given priority and those who are most likely to take this tragic step should be talked to and given advice on how to face challenges in life and return to normalcy.