Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital (KTRH), Wednesday, held a consultative forum with the county health management team and other relevant stakeholders, to identify ways of reducing and preventing cases of suicide in the region.
The forum was held in line with National Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month (September) which aims to spread facts about suicide and educate others on how to help those who are struggling.
Speaking in Kisii town, KTRH Consultant Psychiatrist and Mental Health Focal person, Dr. Mary Njuguna, said the meeting focused on discussing strategies of tackling suicide cases being witnessed in the community.
“Suicide affects our people from all sectors and therefore, this meeting involves discussions on how to reduce and prevent suicide cases with stakeholders from education, police service and agriculture among other sectors,” Njuguna said.
The Psychiatrist noted they discussed the Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2026 aimed at reducing suicide mortality in the country by 10 percent and each of the sectors identified activities they would engage in at their various departments to reduce suicide mortality in the county.
In August 2022, the Ministry of Health launched the Suicide Prevention Strategy to provide a framework for interventions to reduce suicide mortality in the country by 10 percent in the next four years.
The strategy was necessitated by the growing concerns over an alarming rise in suicide incidences. Reports by the police indicate that about 500 people took their lives in the first three months of last year.
Health officials have continued to attribute the high cases of suicide to mental illnesses, a situation brought about by the harsh economic times and is often undiagnosed due to stigma.
The World Bank puts suicide mortality rates in Kenya at 6.1 people in every 100,000, and men are more at risk, with 9.1 men in every 100,000 affected.
Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated in 2019 that about 408 people die by suicide every year in Kenya. The Report also indicated that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among people aged between 15-29.
Poor data, lack of awareness of suicide as a significant public health issue, and the taboo in many communities regarding open discussions around suicide were identified as some of the obstacles to fighting the vice by WHO.
Currently, Kenya ranks at position 114 out of 175 countries with the highest suicide rates, and the disease, which is preventable, remains a global concern and a serious public health issue for several countries.
By Mercy Osongo