Why are suicide rates on the rise? – OPINION

Suicide cases among young people in Kenya have been on the rise. While such cases hurt the victim’s families, they also affect the country’s economy indirectly. We asked the youth on our social media pages the reasons behind the rising suicide cases and how we can avert them. HENRY KAHARA and PEGGY JUMA sampled some of your comments.

Catherine Kamau

The increase in suicidal cases is due to hopelessness and lack of a good support system for our young people. There is a lot of pressure directed towards the youth in order for them to ‘fit’ in the society. I think young people need to be taught life skills to help them appreciate and accept themselves the way they are. I also feel we need to take them to church to know God, their creator, and know what He expects from them.

Seth Wasonga

Young people are committing suicide because they have no one to talk to. Parents need to encourage their children to speak out, as this is the only way to know what is disturbing them. Some commit suicide due to challenges, which, if they had shared with someone, they would have been helped out. I would like to encourage parents to be friends with their children so as to lessen the gap between them and their children.

Magdaline Wechuli

Suicide is something premeditated; it doesn’t just happen. If we are attentive enough, we can be able to see the red flags before it is too late. We need to understand our young people. This can only happen if we spend ample time with them. Let’s know what is going on in their lives and stop judging them. They are children and they are growing up so let’s give them room to make mistakes and when they do so, correct them gently.

Gabriel Ouko

The greatest contributor to suicides according to me is parental dominance. Parents should give their children guidance but they are not supposed to make decisions for them. As parents, we need to understand that children are different and it’s our duty to support them. Let’s stop forcing them to do what we think is good for them. We should give them space do what they want provided it’s the right thing and does not harm them.

Wanjiru Mugwe

I blame the trend on lack of enough parental support to the children, identity crisis and peer pressure. In order to deal with this problem, parents should start by laying a strong foundation and firm value system for their children. The youth need mentors who can provide good counsel. We need to also empower the youths and affirm them, as well as teach them how to combat the challenges they encounter in life.

Wariahe Samuel

In my opinion, suicide is not on the rise. What has happened is that it has now come to the limelight because suicide cases are being reported. That said; we need to listen to our young people and pay attention to their needs. They need someone who will make them open up about their aspirations, fears and anxieties as these may lead them to suicidal thoughts.

What then can we do to reduce cases of suicide among our children?

According to WHO, improved surveillance and monitoring of suicide attempts and self-harm is key to suicide prevention and recommends the setting of a public health surveillance system. If you are a parent, these eleven guidelines could come in handy.

1. Keep communication lines open.

2. Listen carefully.

3. Ease pressure off your children.

4. Don’t talk down to your children, offer suggestions instead.

5. Correct them with love and respect.

6. Affirm them with your words and actions.

7. Let them know you trust them.

8. Create a safe environment at home where they are free to express themselves.

9. Know your child well enough to know when their behaviour is unusual.

10. Take drastic behaviour change seriously.

11. Talk to them. Seek professional help if talking fails.

Published December 2017