The government will launch Kenya’s first suicide prevention strategy this morning.
The strategy developed by the Ministry of Health provides a framework of interventions to reduce suicide mortality in the country by 10% over the next four years.
The launch comes amid growing concerns about an alarming rise in suicides. According to police, more than 500 people in the country have committed suicide in the first six months of 2021.
Preventable suicide is now a global concern and a serious public health problem in all countries.
According to a report unveiled on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day last year, Kenyan health officials attributed the high cases to mental illness, a situation exacerbated by tough economic times leading to depression. Frank Njenga, a renowned psychiatrist, said the condition often goes undiagnosed due to stigma.
“Mental illnesses are often associated with suicidal behavior. Suicidal thoughts associated with lifetime prevalence of depression is 7.9% while for other mental illnesses it is 5-8%,” says Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.
Who is at risk
Young people are at high risk of suicide due to increased anxiety, drug and alcohol use and broken social relationships,” said the Ministry of Health, which cites suicide as the fourth leading cause of death among young people. 15 to 29 years old worldwide.
World Suicide Prevention Day, celebrated on September 10 every year, exists as a platform to raise awareness about suicide and promote preventive measures with the aim of reducing the number of suicides and suicide attempts around the world.
According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), every 40 seconds someone commits suicide; this represents nearly 800,000 people a year worldwide, with more than 75% of suicides in low- and middle-income countries.
This year’s theme, which will be the theme through 2023, is “Creating Hope Through Action”, which aims to give people the confidence to engage with the complexity of “hope”.