Tana river County woke up on the 8th October 2019 in utter shock and disbelief after learning that a form three student at Hola Secondary committed suicide behind a dormitory. While we sympathise with the bereaved family, the sudden death of Garama, brings to the limelight psycho – social issues in our learning Institutions . As we come to terms with the unnecessary loss of young life we need to ponder what went wrong. The author highlights the reasons why Suicide remains an option for teenagers.
The word suicide breaks down into two: the Latin words “sui” and “caedere”, which together translate to “kill oneself.” Suicide is killing yourself on purpose, dying at your own hands. If one kills himself by accident then it is not regarded as suicide.
According to the text book of suicidology and suicide prevention about 90 per cent of individuals who attempt or eventually commit suicide meet diagnostic criteria for a psychiatric disorder, most often mood disorder, substance use disorders, psychoses, and personality disorders. The risk of suicidal behaviour in anxiety disorders and eating disorders, both having Strong comorbidity with depression often are underestimated.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that 800,000 people commit suicide every year, which means that one person commits suicide every 40 seconds.
Suicide cases have been on the rise here in Kenya, according to WHO the number of suicides reported in Kenya rose by 58 per cent between 2008 and 2017 to reach 421.
The report also shows that more men are likely to commit suicide than women. Out of the 421 suicide cases in 2017, 330 involved men.
Within Universities, colleges and other Institutions here in Kenya there have been a worrying statistics of students committing suicide. Universities have been reluctant to share data and divulge details related to the deaths
The scanty details s especially on attempted suicide is because there are penalties in Kenyan law for attempting suicide, leading to low disclosure to authorities. But this is only one reason for the country’s acute lack of suicide data.
However, depression most probably could be the main cause (a televised discussion heard in March 2019)
Suicide notes or death notes is a message left behind when a person dies by suicide, or intends to die by suicide. It is estimated that 25–30% of suicides are accompanied by a note.
“The suicide rate among teens is way up. Know the signs and how to help someone in distress”
(Katie Hurley, LCSW)
The following are risk factors that put thincreasedowing increased risk level for suicidal ideation:
- Depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
- Substance abuse.
- History of sexual or physical abuse.
- Low self-esteem.
- Academic struggles.
- Teens lacking social and family support among others
Research shows that approximately 90% of people who have died by suicide were suffering from a mental illness at the time. The most common mental illness reported was depression, Impulsivity and substance use, including alcohol and drugs, also warning signs for elevated suicide risk. It is important to remember that suicidal thoughts and behaviors are not the natural consequence of serious life stresses. People who experience a stressful life event may feel intense sadness or loss, anxiety, anger, or hopelessness, and may occasionally have the thought that they would be better off dead than alive. In most people, however, experiences of stressful life events do not trigger recurring thoughts of death, creation of a suicide plan, or intent to die.
If any of these increases there are symptoms displayed by a victim of suicide:
√ Preoccupation with death (e.g., recurring themes of death or self-destruction in artwork or written assignments
Intense sadness and or hopelessness
√ Not caring about activities that used to matter
√ Social withdrawal from family, friends, sports, social activities
√ Substance abuse
√ Sleep disturbance (either not sleeping or staying awake all night)
√ Giving away possessions
√ Risky behavior
√ Lack of energy
√ Inability to think clearly concentration problems
√ Declining school performance
√ Increased absences from school
√ Increased irritability
√ Changes in appetite
What should be done to prevent suicide?
You can prevent suicide by being on the lookout for the warning signs mentioned above. You can also prevent suicide by asking about it. Studies show that people do not start thinking about suicide just because someone asks them about it. If you suspect your child or adolescent is suicidal, tell them that you are worried and want to help them. Remember, sometimes children or adolescents who are thinking about suicide won’t tell you because they are worried how you will react. Your direct, nonjudgmental questions can encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings with you. Regardless of their response, if you suspect that the person may be suicidal, help them immediately.
A Learning Institutions should have an active Guidance and Counselling unit. All teachers must be on high alert to discover students with depression and institute remedial measures.
CREDIT: OMAR DHADHO.