This past week news hit the headlines of a head teacher who committed suicide, his body found hanging on a green rope in his house, within the school premises.
The teacher left a suicide note explaining why he would rather end his life, citing frustration by local politicians and education officials.
Again about two months ago, in July, a University student committed suicide after losing a football bet.
The boy had placed a KSHS 40,000 bet, money initially intended for paying his college fees, and after he lost, he felt he had no more reason to live.
Kenya’s suicide rate is ranked at number 29, out of 172 countries across the world, way above 47 other countries in Africa.
Now we might be quick to throw judgment here and there, say people who commit suicide are simply being irrational and weak. We all go through tough times; why do they want the easy way out?
People who commit suicide do not really want to die, no, don’t roll your eyes at that statement.
These are people going through a lot of mental anguish, and they are tired, they want a way out of the pain, they would rather feel nothing than the emptiness and powerlessness they feel inside.
I am not justifying suicide, but I will tell you this, depression is a serious mental condition that is yet to be taken seriously in most African cultures.
A big number of us are not able to identify possible symptoms of a depressed person, which may include lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy, sleeplessness, anger, wishing they were dead etc.
What can we do to save these people? First, get off your phone for a minute! No, really, let’s go back to talking with/to each other more.
Let’s go back to having real conversations, not just on social media, but also with the people who actually exist; who live right next to us, sleep right next to us in bed, eat with us at the table.
We miss out on a lot when we block these people out. This is one of the ways we fail to see the signs today.
Also, if you feel a friend is always looking troubled, don’t ignore.
Try getting them to open up, and maybe if you are not the kind who is good at listening to problems (because you’ll probably not know what to do, it’s okay, don’t feel bad about this), suggest a visit to a counselor/psychiatrist.
But do something. Or even voice your concern to their parents, family, best friends etc. DO SOMETHING. We have suicide help hotlines that you can call, an example is Befrienders Kenya who offer free counseling.
We can always do something.
Let us not sit back and watch as friends and family crumble, and them wait to vehemently pass judgement upon them once they are gone.