By Ann Wambui
Suicide is not a matter to rub off and assume that the person who tried to end his/her life must have known better. It is a call for help.
According to MedBroadcast, 10% of boys and 20% of girls are deemed suicidal in adolescents aged 12 to 16 years.
In Kenya, some of the reasons I have seen from the reports on teenage suicide are domestic. For example a boy had a quarrel with the girlfriend, or a girl found her boyfriend sending messages to another, or in other cases a child ends own life due to lack of school fees enough not to see their parent struggle to fend for him.
With all these and other different reasons, the internet has greatly contributed to influence decisions of young boys and girls who have access to modern means of technology. For example, the ‘Blue Whale’ challenge that may have claimed approximately 130 children, as stated by BBC. Apparently the online game set 50 tasks over 50 days.
Teenagers with mental health problems — such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, poverty, peer pressure, gambling or insomnia — are at higher risk of developing suicidal thoughts. Teens going through bullying or having their parents separating or family conflict could lead a child becoming suicidal thinking he/she is the root cause of issues at home between parents.
Some children may show signs but others may play smart and adults may never see it coming. Some teens may express through writing poems about death, being very vocal about justifying suicide, losing interest in regular activities and being so rebellious.
When a child is at this point, it is very important to have someone to lean on, and sometimes one can meet people with different intentions and make situation worse. The victim needs absolute attention from the parents or close trusted family member who the child is free with. The norm parents may have of saying “do not mind him. He is just looking for attention.” These words can be very hurtful especially when the child is just looking for someone to tell him that “it will be ok” and show them they are not alone in life. That there is more happiness to life when you stay and fight to beat the odds. Parents should also provide an open environment at homes so that children feel free to talk about anything that may be going on in their lives.
Suicide is a global issue and organizations have so far been raising awareness for mental health as the two are closely related. The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 individuals commit suicide each year, with Kenya’s rate being at 6.5 suicides for every 100,000 people. A research by Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital on the patterns of suicide found that as much as girls make suicide attempts more often than boys, the males commit suicide more often than girls.
September 10 is an international day to mark suicide prevention. Befrienders Kenya is a charitable organisation focusing on suicide prevention by offering emotional support to those who may be in distress and therefore in danger of dying by suicide as well as creating awareness on suicide within communities. It is so far, the only organisation in Kenya with a specific focus on suicide prevention.
Psychotherapist Hiram Chomba says, “We need to address the law that says suicide is an offence so that the affected can get interventions instead of being charged in court. Taking someone to court or jailing them aggravates the likelihood that they will attempt suicide again,” he says. “Instead of being in a police cell, the person needs to receive treatment and medication and to see a therapist.” (From Daily Nation)
It is never a sign of weakness to ask for help. In fact it is the bravest act. It will definitely not be easy, but it will be worth fighting to see the reforms you can make. One famous quote says, “Place your hand over your heart. Feel that? That is called purpose. You are alive for a reason. Do not give up.”
If you ever want to talk to someone, or someone needs help, these are some some contacts to share; Befrienders Kenya hotline contacts +254736542304 or +254722178177
Additional information from Kids Health
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