A ccording to the Standard Digital,  a first study detailing incidence of suicide in Africa, estimates that about 3,000 Kenyans in every 100,000 commit or attempt to take their own lives.

Kenya comes 65th out of 192 countries according to the World Health Rankings on suicide prevalence. The report says although more women than men in Kenya attempt suicide, most of these attempts do not succeed.

70 Percent the Result of Intentional Poisoning

In another study published in 2012, over 70 per cent of some 458 patients admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital were as a result of intentional poisoning, and were aged between 21 and 30. Most of the patients were young adults with relationship problems.

Several predisposing factors have been identified for the rising suicide incidences among Kenyan youth. Depression, mental illness, drugs and alcohol abuse, strained relationships, inadequate parenting, poverty, abuse, trauma, domestic violence, broken homes and chronic diseases.

If we want to help prevent our young people from taking their lives it is important to recognize the warning signs and risk factors of suicide and know what to do if you want to help prevent tragedy.

Why do Young People Commit Suicide?

When youth die by suicide they take the answers with them. But teens who attempt suicide and survive say that they wanted to die to end the pain of living. For them it is often a combination of events and issues that pile up and just become overwhelming. It makes them feel that they do not have the strength or desire to continue living.

Many youth show warning signs if they are considering suicide, and early intervention can save their lives. Often they just need a shoulder to lean on or somebody to listen. By reaching out and showing care and concern, many youth may be helped before reaching the point of feeling suicidal.

In Kenya, with the current slow growth of our economy, employment is hard to come by. Frustrations about money and jobs can lead to depression, drug abuse and alcohol addiction. When the young people feel inadequate and powerless they may be tempted to commit suicide

The fact is that although many people are unable to see alternatives to their problems or an end to their pain, they just want to make it all go away forever. Many more who consider taking their own life, really want to live.

Are there Warning Signs that a Young Person is Suicidal?

Some estimate as many as 80% of those thinking about suicide want others to be aware of their emotional pain and stop them from dying.

Remember, these warning signs do not automatically mean a person is going to attempt suicide, but they should be taken seriously:

  • a prior suicide attempt
  • talking about suicide and making a plan
  • giving away prized possessions
  • preoccupation with death
  • signs of depression, hopelessness and anxiety
  • increased drug and alcohol use.

What Should I do if I Suspect Someone I know is Suicidal?

If you notice the warning signs for suicide or the young person tells you directly that they are thinking about suicide there are a few very important things to do:

  • Always show them that you are concerned – listen , ask about their feelings and avoid trying to come up with a solution to their problem
  • Ask directly about suicide – be direct without being confrontational; say “are you feeling so bad that you are thinking about suicide?”

If the answer to your question is “yes” or you think it is yes, go get help – call a crisis line, visit the school counsellor, tell a parent or take the teen to a clinic so that someone professional skills can help.

Never keep talk of suicide a secret.

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