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Kenya suicide rate hits ten-year high

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Summary

  • Men are more exposed than women; suicides reported in Kenya up by 58pc in 10 years, says World Health Organisation.

The number of suicides reported in Kenya rose by 58 per cent between 2008 and 2017 to reach 421, official data reveal.

Although the number of suicide cases has been rising since 2008, the data show the lowest incidents were recorded in 2010 at 75 cases.

The report also shows that more men are likely to commit suicide than women. Out of the 421 suicide cases in 2017, 330 involved men.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that close to 800,000 people commit suicide every year, which means one person every 40 seconds. Many more attempt suicide, WHO adds.

The World Population Review ranks Kenya at position 114 among 175 countries with the highest suicide rate.

The world Population Review in its survey states that Kenya’s suicide rate is at least 6.5 suicides per 100,000 people, a figure echoed by World Health Organisation.

The countries leading in suicide rates include South Indian island nation of Sri Lanka with 35.3 suicides per 100,000 people, the eastern Europe country of Lithuania (32.7 suicides per 100,000 people) and South Korea in east Asia (28.3 suicides per 100,000 people).

Surprisingly, many of the most troubled nations in the world have comparatively low suicide rates. Afghanistan has 5.5 suicides per 100,000 while Iraq has three and Syria 2.7.

The lowest suicide rates in the world are concentrated in the Caribbean islands of the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda. Suicide is almost unheard of in each of these countries, with Grenada and Barbados reporting 0.5 and 0.4 cases per 100,000 respectively.

“It is not clear if the suicide statistics for these countries reflect suicides committed due to mental health problems and terminal illnesses (which are the primary reasons for suicide in most of the world), or if they also include suicides committed as part of the ongoing conflicts in these countries, states World Population Review study.

Suicide is associated with mental disorders, such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and alcohol and other substance abuse.

Recently, US health authorities called for a comprehensive approach to addressing depression in the wake of a sharp rise in suicide rates, including high profile cases of celebrity Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade.

Kate Spade’s husband Andy Spade said in a statement that she had suffered from depression for many years and was working closely with her doctors.

A World Bank report released last year shows that a total of 1.9 million depression cases were reported in Kenya by 2015.

The report ranked Kenya as the sixth country with the highest number of depression cases among African countries.

The WHO approximations show that more than 300 million people are affected by depression globally and the condition is linked to the suicides of more than 800,000 people each year.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth in the 15-29 age bracket.

Besides depression, other risk factors include access to firearms, physical or sexual abuse, unemployment, strained relationships, imprisonment, chronic physical illness, financial difficulties, loneliness and exposure to the suicidal behaviour of others.