Suicide cases on the rise in Kwale

suicideSamba Sports Youth Agenda project officer Mwanaisha Kuwania speaks in an interview at Kombani social hall in Matuga, Kwale county on Monday, June 26, 2023

Suicide cases in Kwale County are on the rise.

According to different stakeholders, the rise has been occasioned by mental health challenges among the youth.

In the past few months, the county has recorded quite a significant increase of suicide cases from different parts.

They blamed lack of employment, lack of morals and high cost of living as the main contributors.

Samba Sports Youth Agenda project officer Mwanaisha Kuwania said the rate at which young people are taking their own life is alarming.

She said depression has also forced some youths into drugs and crime.

She claimed mental health has also catapulted the increase in teenage pregnancies in Kwale as life pressure is being transferred to children who take unwise decisions for lacking proper guidance.

“When trauma is not transformed it is transferred and that’s how a depressed parent passes the effects to a child,” she said.

Kuwania said due to economic constraints and a high rate of unemployment many young people in Kwale strive to survive hence leading to mental health issues because of severe stress.

She said many youth want to quickly get out of poverty and set high life standards more than they can afford which later transform into depression.

Kuwania spoke in an interview during the marking of mental health awareness day through the Kumekucha Quest program at Kombani in Matuga sub-county.

The program seeks to intensify awareness of mental health problems and assist young people in healing and restoring hope as well as creating resilience.

It focuses on using skits, sports and art to sensitize and curb mental health issues. It targets youth from 18-24 years and children of age 10-17 years.

Kuwania said the mental health problem has been a major concern because most people associate it with witchcraft.

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“Our African culture if one has mental problems it is related to witchcraft which is not the case,” she said.

She said the program reaches out to children in schools and instils knowledge at an early age to help them positively deal with stress and improve their mental health.

Matuga Deputy County Commissioner Lucy Ndemo confirmed that suicide cases have been rampant although not reported daily.

She said most of them are a result of stress and depression sparked by various life challenges.

Ndemo advised young people to accept their current life status and improve gradually.

“The idea that you want to live and drive a big car like your friends is harmful to your health. Success is a process just live within your capabilities,” she said.

The DCC also warned parents against putting too much pressure on children over academic performances and careers.

Ndemo said people are talented differently and should be supported regardless of what school grades they get.

She said the government is keen on empowering and equipping youth through technical courses and parents should consider taking them to technical institutions for skills.

Ndemo urged the community to love one another and assist those in need to prevent suicide.

Kwale County focal person for mental health and a council psychologist Triza Ireri advised people to seek psychosocial support whenever they feel depressed.

Ireri said the first sign of mental health problem is people isolating themselves from friends and getting angry all the time.

The psychologist said many people suffer from the health condition but are unaware of it.

She said the sickness is caused by daily life challenges and can be avoided if people choose to live a positive and healthy lifestyle.

A victim Dan Kinyanjui said he developed mental stress when he lost his job in 2017 and wife in 2019.

He said at one point he found himself in Port Ritz mental hospital in Mombasa.

“Mental health is real, I started abusing drugs after losing hope in life and it is when I lost control,” he said.

Kinyanjui said it took him two years to recover and has since then been helping youth to deal with stress.

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