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Updated on June 19, 2013

Suicide is like a flooding river it sleeps all around the victim


We recall with profound sadness, the school shooting in Connecticut U.S.A where a 20 year old killed 28 people, including himself and his mother. Suicide is never about an individual, it stretches far to other innocent people.

Suicide is one cause of death that is preventable if collective action among community members is taken, identifying cases and taking action, helping those with suicidal feelings before it happens. Communities need to come together and tackle issues related to suicide because leading causes of suicide vary from place to place.

Every year, one million people die from suicide. This is according to a report by the World Health Organisation. This directly translates to a value of about one person dying every 40 seconds. This is from data collected in countries where these values are recorded. This value can be worse in my country where suicide itself is treated as a big criminal offence and issues surrounding such a death may be handled with utmost secrecy, killing of either oneself or others in Africa is treated with fear and superstition, fear of spirits of the dead whether existent or nonexistent. The issues surrounding killing of either oneself or others do not attract interest of those affected among the living. These issues are discussed in hushed tones. This makes suicide cases to go down without much discussion.

According to the same World Health organisation report, in past 45 years cases of suicide have been on increase by about 60%, suicide is the third leading cause of death among the age group 15-44, something we need to be wary about, because this is the most productive age group. Cases of suicide were high in the male elderly, but now it is major cause of death among the young in the developing world. Developing countries are faced with an explosion of populations, whose majority are young people, hence have to grapple with of educating this population and creation of jobs and other facilities. Lack or inadequacy thereof leading to a largely frustrated youth, who resort to all sorts of activities to survive the miserable situations or eventually sinking into frustration and killing themselves. Suicide has a direct effect on the other people related to the victim mentally and emotionally, this may happen soon after the suicide or much later. Suicidal attempts or suicide has a tendency to happen again to the people close to the victim. It is important that where a person has committed suicide the people close to him/her are counselled, suicide deaths exert pressure on income of families, and dependants are left poor. This increases burden communities; already under burden of disease; some new and emerging. Suicide is caused by many interacting factors; they could be situational, biological, genetic, social, psychological and environmental factors

With love suicide is preventable

Accompany mental patients to areas of great risk


Developing countries have had in the recent past, a high population explosion of which they had not clearly planned for. Most young people graduate from school and there is no immediate system to accommodate them, this result into hopelessness and at times misery resulting in suicides. The family support structure is also weakening, most young people are increasingly being brought up in single parent family, most of these families are lead by women, the male children tend to have in such a structure no male figures to look up to, they grow up emotionally unrelated to manhood and get shocked when they are introduced to a man only environments, with all the cultural expectations, they may be more vulnerable to suicide attempts than their female counterparts. In single parent families, the single parent at times is strained in fending for the children alone and may not be able to adequately meet the emotional needs of the children, such children grow up majorly on decisions they make individually.

Services for assisting suicide cases are not available or the few that are available do not recognise suicide as a mental disorder .In Kenya for instance for along time, there was only one mental facility, this facility only served a large number of patients of severe mental cases, depression would not be considered here. Rates of suicide escalated to very high levels, say at least two cases were reported on media daily until religious groups, N.G.O‘s and other bodies realised that it was a serious issue and started providing counselling facilities. The situation is not completely contained but now it is not as desperate as before.

Poverty cannot be eradicated in one day,unity though keeps the heart warm even in dark storms


Where the economy is performing poorly, there is a large group of desperate people. The allocation of the national budget in Kenya for instance is low especially on the general health. I am not aware of any allocation for mental health, in most countries suicide is not classified as a serious disorder, the only serious disorder considered is where an individual maybe losses mind completely, undresses and has to be locked up in a mental facility with other equally crazy people.


Medical personnel handling the general public are strained because they are few. There are no or very few medical personnel trained to handle cases of acute stress and depression or suicide related mental disorders. In Kenya for instance suicide related mental disorders are dismissed as attempts of the individuals to become controlling, most of the victims give warming, they are dismissed and told to grow up then later proceed to carry out the suicide. Suicide is not handled communally, it is taken as a small overflow of family squabbles, and left unattended then spills over.Neighbours only join to converse in hushed tones, when the individual has already destroyed self.


Suicide in Kenya is not openly discussed, one it is treated as a criminal offence. The survivors of a suicide attempt end up in jail instead of a correctional mental facility. Where the individual managed to kill him or others too, the people close to the victim may refuse to report the case to government agencies for fear of being victimised or charged. This increases the burden on the people close to the victim as far as keeping the secret is concerned. Some Kenyans associate killing of oneself with bad spirits and therefore they would rather not talk about it anywhere, for fear that it may happen to them also. The degree to which these cases go unreported or issues of mentally disturbed cases not being remedied must be too high in this country because in a span of 6 months only,many suicides have been reported. It is also very worrying that most suicide killers destroy their families with them too. It is evident that we need to address mental disorders in the family because some mentally sick person, may be quietly plotting on going with you wherever they think is safe in their sick heads.

cases may go unreported but symptoms of unrest,unkempt behavoiur should not go unnoticed


Mental and physical illness

Alcohol and substance abuse

Chronic illness, history of trauma and acute emotional distress

Exposure to violent situations

Previous suicide attempt and or family history of suicide and exposure to suicide behaviour through media

Sudden change in an individual’s life


Barriers to getting mental healthcare


Copious alcohol intake by a normally less drinker should give a red flag that an individual is trying to avoid an explosive situation at hand .Alcohol for most people makes individuals less thoughtful of a serious situation at hand, the truth however is this, alcohol worsens situation of stress and depression. Alcohol intake stimulates the hypothalamus, the pituitary glands and the adrenal glands. Hormones cortisol and adrenaline are secreted in a large amount. These hormones go ahead in reinforcing the symptoms of stress. It is common that non confrontational, calm people fight others, confront their enemies and dare even police officers when they get drunk. A drunken individual pays little attention and may carry out gravely dangerous activities; it is easier therefore for a depressed drunk person to kill themselves and others than a sober individual. In fact most drunken suicides, go together with murder of people close to the individual. In a graphic sad suicide attempt, a man in Western province of Kenya bought a machete, sharpened it, went to a drinking den, returned home and killed over seven family members including his pregnant wife and was intercepted before he killed himself. Alcohol does not destroy stress; it just produces carelessness and adrenaline enough to do things one will live in jail for forever. Alcohol suppresses appetite; an individual eats less hence lacking the body’s much needed calories that are usually derived from a balanced diet, these healthy calories are then replaced with calories from the drink; which are few resulting in general decline of the individual’s health and defence against diseases. I will not talk about the other substances like heroin, bhang and drugs there are a lot of examples of both living and non living to read from.

Excessive intake of alcohol impairs one's rationale


Developing countries are faced with an explosion of population of mainly unemployed youth. In most developing countries structures have not been placed to cater for this lot. In fact retirement age in Kenya was raised; I think the reverse should have happened to help accommodate this group. Most young people move from rural areas to urban areas which are areas of high employment, they lack jobs, gets stressed and many commit suicide. In a country like Kenya there is an education system that mostly only caters for those who scored very highly in all levels of education. There is also a large population of those who performed well in school too but failed to afford education at one point. Getting a job in our system is difficult. There are some with University degrees for which they totally have not been able to get jobs. This being a largely cultural society where men are expected to be sole bread winners, the stranded young men find themselves in a maze that they did not have direct hand in its creation, some lose hope and kill themselves. In the past Kenya cases I realised sadly that most suicides done by adults accompanies killing their children too, it happens mostly to low income earners , neighbours on being interviewed on television I have heard them say this at least on four occasions ‘’He/she had argument with his/her husband/wife..Then…’’ poverty cannot be ruled out if suicide and murder of innocent children is to be contained. Many young girls are also killing themselves after being made to leave school and marry older men who mistreat them for not having ability to fend for them or being hit severally, these happens mostly in rural traditional communities, leading being the Maasai and Pokot.Here women are considered weaker. The young girls end up feeling helpless, miserable and being faced with challenges of motherhood, before they even have learnt to be adults. In poor households there are usually a large number of people living together; the more there are the higher the chances of picking quarrels that may escalate into brawl or worse.

When the ray of hope is small than the struggle youth sink faster


To those with chronic illness, there is always a lurking of the inevitable. There is usually a narrow separation for them between life and death. A suicide attempt for them is both a cry for helps and wish for freedom. Patients of chronic illness get a lot of support from others and may feel like they are burdening others. Whenever one is physically ill there is an increased chance of mental illness. It is good for caregivers to help patients to ease into daily routine to regain a sense of belonging. Too much help is not healthy. Traumatic experiences like loss of a vital body organ may make an individual depressed and feeling like there cannot be another day without that organ such patients also need help or they may act on their thoughts.


Victims of violent situations whether being the offender or the offended are susceptible to suicide. Many victims of sexual abuse may blame themselves for not being able to defend themselves, feel weak and useless and sink with it. Cases of violence against even men by other men may leave the victim bitter towards self and hence killing self. Aggressors of violence especially those genuinely guilty may go down to kill themselves out of guilt. We have read of cases of inmates who kill themselves within jail, this emanates from too much guilt that makes the individual sink into depression and self hate. These people can be re assured that with that guilt, accepting the repercussions of their actions, they have a chance to completely turn around. I will illustrate some very common cause of suicide among the youth 13-18 age group. Most suicides among high school students occur during school vacations, they are mostly about young people being restrained from doing certain things by parents or guardians or being beaten. These young people feel weak restrained and at times committing suicide. It is high time parents started adjusting to other means of reaching a consensus with their children, because this may be a totally different generation and a new approach may be long overdue.


Sudden changes in an individual lives may be another common cause of suicide. Loss of job is one leading cause of suicide among young people; an individual is left hopeless and may sink low with demands of living day to day without means of providing for themselves and their dependants. Losses from thefts and gambling can also take an individual down. Separation from a partner tops among causes of suicide among adolescents and young adults. Many cases of this kind of suicide in Kenya happen in institutions of higher learning colleges and high schools.


There is stigma associated with getting healthcare in relation to suicide disorders because in Kenya an individual may be taken for psychiatric tests that are carried out on completely insane individuals. A person would rather fake wellness than join such a queue in our one only congested mental facility. People also do not want to be associated with mental instability; other people stop treating you as an equal or taking you seriously when you talk. So unless I feel the urge to run around covered in paper bag, rough up my hair or talk alone. I will rather try to keep my cool, or kill myself, they say.


It is crucial that we develop a closer connection with our family, friends, neighbours and workmates. This way we easily notice anomalies in their manners and get remedy before situations are out of control. Skill in problem solving need to be imparted in children as they grow up, of importance is tactics in conflict resolution and how to solve problems in a non violent manner. Religious, cultural and social beliefs should be imparted to encourage an attitude self preservation in individuals at all time. It is also important to keep weapons out of rich of family members unless the family is together on a battleground, I cannot figure out where...


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