Experts link cases of suicide to country’s economy and drug abuse

By Moses Michira and Emmanuel Were

Kenya: More Kenyans are killing themselves today than they did two years ago, studies have shown.

Psychologists point accusing fingers to the worsening standards of living.

Suicide cases more than doubled last year with at least 323 people taking their lives in scenario psychologists attributed to frustrations and disillusionment, especially among the youth.

A worsening economic situation for majority of Kenyans and drug abuse are suspected to cause the alarming trend, with number of suicides closely tracking the occurrence of other forms of crime like murder and robberies.

Suicides committed in 2012 are nearly five times the 75 reported in 2010 when the country witnessed the highest stability on commodity prices, as measured by the rate of inflation at 4.1 per cent compared to 14 per cent in 2011 and 9.4 per cent last year.

Dr Oscar Githua, a forensic psychologist, attributes the sudden jump on suicides to the soaring cost of basic commodities that have resulted to increased households that cannot meet their needs.

“Most cases are linked to frustrations caused by inability to afford basic needs,” says Githua, who is also a psychology lecturer at the United States International University.

He adds that breadwinners who are unable to provide for their families are a high-risk group because of the associated pain of failure. “For the victims, suicide is often the only viable option.”

Last year, Kenya took a knock from a faltering global economy where demand for locally produced commodities dipped while delayed rains disrupted agricultural activity.

These factors are directly linked to the cost of common household expenditure, especially foodstuff which makes up the single biggest expense for the poor.

Nyanza PPO Joseph Oletito told The Standard last year there were at least 20 suicides reported in October alone, while attributing the worrying statistics to soaring poverty rates.

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