The health sector stakeholders have been urged to focus their attention on the needs of people with mental health problems by creating hope through action.
The Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) for Health Dr. Rashid Aman urged stakeholders to change the suicide narrative and play a more active role in supporting the victims and the bereaved of suicide crisis through the creation and promotion of hope and compassion to make those in need comfortable in seeking help.
“Young people are at high risk of suicide due to heightened anxiety, indulging in drugs and alcohol and broken social relationships,” Dr. Rashid said, while citing suicide as the fourth leading cause of death between 15 to 29 year olds globally.
The CAS presided over the annual World Suicide Prevention Day commemoration marked globally every 10th September at the Ministry of Health headquarters, Nairobi to raise awareness on suicidal behavior and promote actions that will reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts.
He expressed alarming statistics that portrayed one in every 100 deaths in the world was from suicide in 2019 while Kenya lost 4 lives on a daily basis.
“The aim of this year’s theme is to create a sense of connection and provide hope to those who are struggling through listening and caring,” said Dr. Rashid, adding that humans show their best and worst selves in difficult times.
Insisting that suicide is a preventable problem, the CAS asked every health stakeholder to create awareness and employ the social, biological, and environmental interventions needed to reduce stigma and suicide cases altogether.
“Suicide risk factors arise from individuals, community and relationships, and the society and health system which are complex and have multiplicity causation,” he added.
“We may feel isolated from the problem of mental health but it can touch us at any part of our lives,” noted the CAS, while stressing that suicide is a preventable public health problem.
He also emphasized the need to educate the population at large, especially the vulnerable groups in order to achieve a comprehensive public health action to prevent suicide.
“We can accomplish this preventive action through activities geared towards environmental control of risk factors and means, early identification and effective treatment of people with mental and substance use disorders as well as responsible reporting of suicide by media,” he said.
He was confident of the mental health action plan, launched by the Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe as a roadmap of the various activities needed to work towards a healthy nation.
Further, the CAS stated how the plan outlines the manner in which Kenyans can utilize the Tele Mental Health platforms for immediate health care across the country.
The government had responded to the global call by the World Health Organization by developing strategies aimed at reducing suicide mortalities through the amendments of relevant legislative framework and policies for effective suicide prevention and development.
“The implementation of a data system on suicide risk surveillance is also an addition to the integrated and multi-sectoral approach for successful prevention,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health is fully supporting the team developing the final stages of the Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2026 that will be launched soon.
By Michael Omondi