County of death? Alarm as over 132 die of suicide in Kirinyaga

Shocked residents gather at the scene where the body of a night watchman was found hanging from a tree in Kangoro village, Kirinyaga County on January 18, 2020. The man is suspected to have committed suicide over a Sh31,000 debt. PHOTO | GEORGE MUNENE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

More men than women are committing suicide in Kirinyaga county, an issue that has raised concerns among the residents and religious leaders in the region.

Out of the 132 people who died of suicide in 2021 and 2022, 106 are men and 26 are women, according to the statistics obtained at the crime department at the Kerugoya County police station.

Most of the victims die of suicide by hanging themselves inside houses and on trees while others drown themselves in rivers and wells.

Residents said the trend is of grave concerns and called on the government to address the region.

"We are losing so many people especially males to suicide and something urgent should be done to prevent such deaths," one of the residents Stephen Kigochi said.

Spiritual leaders observed that hardly a week passes without reported cases of suicide in the region.

They blamed the problems on depression occasioned by economic hardship.

"When people fail to meet their financial obligations they become depressed and consequently they take their lives," said Pastor Simon Njogu of Victory Church.

Mr Njogu observed that the situation was serious, adding that a lasting solution to the problems should be sought to save lives.

The religious leaders also noted that some people kill themselves after constant domestic violence which more often arises from land disputes.

They said counselling of spouses was required to prevent more suicides from occurring in the region.

"As religious leaders in collaboration with chiefs and public health officers we need to be actively involved in counselling residents to get rid of this menace," another priest said.

Kirinyaga county Land executive Reverend Samuel Kanjobe said more men eliminate themselves   because they don't share their problems.

"Unlike women, men keep to themselves when they face major challenges in life and finally they end up committing suicide," said Kanjobe.

Further the Reverend Kanjobe advised men to take spiritual nourishment seriously if they want to have peace of mind.

"Many men don't go to seek solace when they are troubled. If they want to  resist suicide temptations, they should take spiritual matters seriously," said the Rev Kanjobe.

The recent incident involved the death of a prominent farmer Mr Patrick Njeru,  40 who was a large scale farmer.He killed himself at Mathangauta village, just one kilometre away from his home.

Residents saw the body of the deceased in the morning and reported the matter to officers at Wang'uru police station.

Area assistant chief, Mr Stephen Ndung'u said it was sad the area lost a good person who created employment for scores of residents.

He said it could not be immediately established why the man took out his life.

It is believed that he committed suicide in the morning as he left home at dawn, saying he had gone to his farm to water his maize crop.

Residents described the deceased as a very hard working and generous man.

"The deceased was a well known person because he owns large rice, maize and horticultural farms.He used to employ us to work in his farms and we were shocked when we saw his lifeless body," said Ms Githinji.

The residents said the deceased lived a good life and his death took them by surprise.

"He had a good home where he lived with his wife and children," said Mr James Mureithi.
Another resident, Reuben Mugera  said prior to the incident, he was with the deceased in a social place.

"On Tuesday evening I was with the deceased who appeared jovial. He even bought me some drinks and this morning I'm shocked to hear that he has departed. He never showed any signs of depression and I do confess that we have lost a good man," said Mr Mugera.

Another priest,the Reverend Naftali Mwangi of African Independent Church of Africa ( AIPCA) said he was concerned over the matter.

He attributed the problem to stress and asked residents to seek the assistance of counsellors to avoid such deaths.


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