The increasing cases of suicide reports among young people in Narok county is the reason why various Non-Governmental Organizations joined together to hold a youth conference aimed at educating the youngsters on mental health.
Mental health refers to cognitive, behaviour and emotional wellbeing of a person that dictates how a person thinks, feels and behaves. Conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety could all affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine.
The youth who came from different backgrounds narrated the nasty experiences they have faced in their childhood, effects that were still being reflected in their adulthood.
The meeting held at a Narok hotel was organized by the World Vision in collaboration with Afya Africa, Linda Arts and Beyond Zero Campaign.
Mercy Martin (not her real name), 26, a post-election victim, bitterly recalled how she escaped death narrowly after violence broke at the estate she lived in Naivasha after the 2007 election.
“I remember I was in class six and I was schooling in a school at Naivasha because my mother used to work in the flower farms, when the violence started,” she said.
My closest neighbours who used to be our friends, she lamented, turned out to be their worst enemy since they did not speak the same language.
“My mother would hide my little sister and I under the bed so that we could not be traumatized by what was happening outside as people would literally chop others to death,” she said amidst tears.
One night, she narrated, she peeped through the window and saw a close friend being beaten to death as another was raped by people who were well known to her.
She told the emotional crowd that one day, while traveling to their rural home in Western part of the country to escape the ferocity in Naivasha, their car was hijacked by unknown people and the women in the vehicle were raped while the men received a thorough beating.
Later, after the violence, her family was referred to the Red Cross organization that offered them guidance and counseling and took them through a healing process.
“I have not spoken my story to people before. I am saying this today to warn those threatening to cause chaos in the country that violence is too bad and the country is greater than any politician,” she said.
“I would not like any individual to suffer what I suffered as it affected my life. Up to date, I do not like going where there are crowds and am never comfortable attending a political rally. I like staying in quite places,” she said.
Another young adult Moses Munene (not real name), 22, said he has attempted to commit suicide three times because of minor issues that were common to any other person.
“Whenever I needed little money and my mother failed to give me, I felt like killing myself so as to punish her. One day, I attempted to drink a whole bottle of undiluted hard drink so that I could die but my plan flopped,” he told the tens of youths gathered in the meeting.
His life was saved by a close relative who took him to a counselor at the Narok County Referral Hospital where he underwent a series of counseling sessions.
“I am now too positive in life and every single challenge that comes my way gives me an opportunity to grow. I encourage young people to be optimistic and believe in themselves as each one of us as a unique talent,” he said.
A counsellor working with the Beyond Zero initiative at the Narok County Referral Hospital Monicah Silantoi said human behaviour is formed when one is between six to twelve years old.
She encouraged the youth to always seek counselling whenever they were not comfortable saying there is always a solution for every problem they are facing in life.
Also, she called on parents to develop a close relationship with their children in a bid to understand them and offer the necessary assistance when needed.
“It is okay not to be okay. Feel free to disclose your challenges to a person you trust whom you are sure will offer you a solution,” she said.
Narok Youth Officer Joash Ratemo encouraged the young people to take advantage of the Youth Empowerment Centers in the county to build their talent instead of remaining at home doing nothing.
“The youth centers are equipped with indoor games, ICT training sessions, counselling sessions, capacity building sessions among others. You will always find something to keep you busy and people to share your problems with,” said Ratemo.
During the forum, the youth led by the Narok Youth Forum Chairman accused the police of not supporting them by interfering with witnesses whenever they reported Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases.
They said the police failed to record a tangible part of the investigation, making the case weak and with no ground in court of law.
“Sometime they record the statements and intentionally leave out the key witnesses after they are compromised. Other time they fail to preserve the exhibits properly hence compromising the cases. This denies the victim justice in court of law,” said the young people.
Afya Africa Chief Executive Officer Ms. Catherine Tito called on the youth not to suffer in silence and encouraged them to visit her office where they will offer the relevant solution.
Conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress can affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine, Ms. Tito reiterated.
According to Narok Police Commander John Kizito, there has been a raising number of young people who commit suicide in the county.
Most of those who commit suicide are young people below the age of 30, who kill themselves because of very minor reasons.
“Barely will a week end without a suicidal case being reported. It is common among young people who want to get everything they need in one day,” he said adding that the police have a counseling department with professional counselors who offer services free of charge to victims.
By Ann Salaton