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Youth urged to seek counselling

Medical experts have raised alarm over the increasing number of suicide cases in the country.

The move comes in the wake of cases where teenagers in high school have taken their own lives with calls to parents and guardians to play an active role in preventing the self-immolation vice.

According to the Kericho County Referral Hospital Consultant, Psychiatrist Dr. George Mugiira Itabari said the rising cases of suicide among the youth was due to depression which he pointed out is a mental illness that requires urgent attention.

Dr. Itabari said mental health disorders caused by substance abuse, anxiety disorders like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can cause depression among the youth between the ages of 15 to 30.

Dr. Itabari said while it was normal for depressed people to keep a low profile, it is important to communicate with them on a regular basis and instead of talking about their symptoms directly; he stressed that it is prudent to speak to them in a sensitive and non-judgmental manner.

“It is also important to be a good listener around people with depression. Listening to them patiently can be very reassuring. Contrary to the common belief, talking about suicide does not increase the risk and in fact, it may be beneficial to discuss their emotional state,” said Dr. Itabari.

The Psychiatrist also pointed out that seeking help from professionals like him was crucial adding in the milder stages; depression can be treated by maintaining a daily routine, eating a balanced diet, getting 6-8 hours of restful sleep, daily exercise, reducing alcohol consumption or smoking cessation and practicing meditation.

Dr. Itabari further said that for advanced stages of depression, a combination of antidepressant medication, psychological therapy and social intervention are recommended adding that medications must be started and monitored on a regular basis by a psychiatrist in order to correct chemical imbalance in the brain.

“Remaining socially connected with family and friends can enhance the mood, keep them motivated and ensure regular appointments with the professionals. They should also be alert about any warning signs,” Dr. Itabari said.

Dr. Itabari was speaking to KNA as the world commemorated World Suicide Prevention week that starts on September 5th to September 11th with this year’s theme being Creating Hope Through Action.

According to World Health Organization, the theme for this year’s world Suicide Prevention Week is a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and provide hope by supporting those struggling and experiencing a suicidal crisis or those bereaved by suicide.

“Suicide is one of the major causes of mortality worldwide with around 800,000 deaths due to suicide every year therefore, there is need to create awareness and empower people to seek help,” said Dr. Itabari.

According to Dr. Itabari people who are suicidal may feel trapped or like a burden to their friends, family and those around them and thus feel like they are alone and have no other options.

“Here in Kericho we receive a lot of cases of attempted suicide by teenagers in high school and also from people whose relationships have failed.”

He however said that there is increasing awareness on mental health and most people are now accepting that mental health is part of general health and the level of stigma is reducing stressing the need for the society to normalize seeking treatment from psychiatrists in cases that may lead to suicide.

By Kibe Mburu

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