The skyrocketing drug abuse, especially bhang and chang’aa has been pointed as the main catalyst of the alarming high and steady rise in the numbers of suicidal cases in Gucha, Kisii County.
Speaking during chief baraza at Machongo grounds, Christine Amaya, the area Sub County Police Commander, noted with concern the abuse of drugs as the major root cause of men in the area succumbing to self-inflicted immolation.
“Suicide continues to remain an ongoing epidemic in the Gucha especially among married men. Using alcohol or drugs can make your feelings of suicide stronger. Drugs and alcohol can also make you more impulsive where you might act on sudden urges. Keep yourself safe. Go to a place where you feel safe and where you do not have anything you can use to harm yourself,” Amaya urged.
She asked women to be caring to their husbands and provide healthy habits in various ways in their matrimonial homes such as financial support where possible, that then translates into better healthy marriage environments for men.
“If you think someone you love may be at risk of suicide, there are things you can do to help. First and foremost, talk to your loved one about your concerns. Let them know that you are there to support them, you can even reach out to a doctor or therapist for help,” Amaya advised.
The residents were enlightened that, talking about suicide, providing necessary support, and reducing access to self-harm, including weapons and dangerous chemicals and substances, are a few actions that may help save a loved one’s life. Family and friends of someone with suicidal thoughts and substance abuse issues should begin an open, honest, and non-judgmental conversation with them.
The area Deputy County commissioner (DCC) Emanuel Mwachiro acknowledged the multiple strategies that have been implemented in the area to counter the menace of drug abuse, but the outcomes have not been encouraging enough.
Mwachiro said that poor political will, socio-cultural barriers, low level of community awareness about the adverse consequences of drug abuse, lack of counseling on substance abuse by the outreach workers, lack of follow-up services and resource limitations are the major bottlenecks in the current strategies to mitigate the problem of drugs abuse.
“Suicide and other drug problems must be understood as a social, economic, spiritual and health problem. This therefore provides an opportunity for all of us involved in the campaign against this menace to re-orient our energies towards ridding or reducing the plight of alcohol and drug use in society such as suicide. Religious bodies are central pillars in the promotion of the fundamentals that provide a firm foundation upon which mental disorientation, alcohol and drug abuse is dealt with in society,” Mwachiro said.
The DCC said that the community should practice community-oriented policing as a strategy to combat the menace. He said such strategy encourages the public to act as partners with the police in preventing and managing the vice based on the needs of the community.
“Community policing will ensure taking a pro-active approach towards security issues and creating an atmosphere that supports transparency and collaborative problem solving, which leads to a higher level of public trust and helps to prevent suicide and drugs abuse threats, therein encouraging community development,” Mwachiro stated.
The government of Kenya through the ministry of health rolled out the national suicide Prevention Strategy 2021–2026 with an aim to attain a 10 per cent reduction in suicide mortality by the year 2026.
By Misheba Alfred and Havilah Kariri