I FEEL LIKE I AM JUST TAKING UP SPACE: A TAKE ON SUICIDE PREVENTION!

September 10th was world Suicide Prevention Day! Research shows that the pandemic has amplified risk factors associated with suicide, such as economic loss, trauma, abuse, mental health disorders, and lack of ease to access health care. It is the second leading cause of death among children, adolescents and youths aged 15-29 years. One out of 15 high school students attempt suicide and for each suicide case among young people, it is reported that there might have been 100 to 200 attempts. There is a need to create awareness on suicide in the society for the realization of the centrality of the community on creating conducive environments for suicide prevention and creating safe spaces to reduce high-risk individuals from attempting suicide. The youths actively fighting inclusion rights are reported to be at a higher risk of committing suicide. With that in mind here are some facts about suicide: (courtesy of The Guardian)

  • More than 700 000 people die due to suicide every year.
  • For every suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide. A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.
  • 77% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally

In the past months, the numbers of attempted suicide have increased in Kenya. According to the Kenya police, almost 500 people have taken their lives between the months of May to June 2021, more than the number that had committed suicide in the past year. Many may ask why? Perhaps the plight of economic instability at a time when an invisible enemy is killing the nation? Or is it because of the taboos associated with depression and African culture where the community doesn’t really express themselves in times of stress and depression exposing one to suicidal thoughts? Men, in particular, are greatly affected by such cultures and they end up making a larger percentage of individuals who take their lives in terms of gender (up to four times higher chance of attempting suicide than women)

From the statistics, the youngest person to take their life was 9 years this year in Kenya. Suicide happens impulsively in moments of crisis where individuals fail to deal with stressors such as toxic relationships, chronic pain…etc. Mental illness accounts for 13% of the reasons for suicide in Kenya. Research has shown that structural determinants of mental ill-health such as extreme poverty, lack of access to empowerment opportunities, and discrimination increase the likelihood of individuals committing suicide.

World health organization (WHO) cited that Stigmatization, poor data, lack of awareness of suicide as a major public health issue, and societal taboos are obstacles to mitigating suicidal attempts. There is limited knowledge and access to mental health services in communities.

Garden of Hope Foundation works to empower the youths, women, and children, one of the ways that mitigate suicidal attempts. We strive to improve lives through our mentorship and economic empowerment programs. We should all work to reduce discrimination on matters of mental health and improve the level of healthcare facilities to address mental health and significantly reduce suicidal cases. Mentorship is also key to reduce taboos associated with ill mental health that increases the vulnerability of victims. “There are men who would rather go for a prostate check than see a psychiatrist or a counselor,” (stated by Eddy Kimani a Kenyan Journalist). Some of the beliefs that have seen a rise to suicide cases among men.

We need to empower society; this journey is for us all. Suicide prevention and mental health awareness should be a core activity in society. We need to adapt to sustainable ways of living. Our youths and teenagers, not to mention the men are becoming victims to suicide each day, as Garden of Hope Foundation we are at the forefront of mitigating this public health problem caused to us every life counts!

Titus Mulei

© Garden of Hope Foundation