Form Three student dies by suicide after being ordered to cut her hair

Ms Jane Wairimu the grandmother of the 17-year-old girl who died by suicide is comforted by relatives at their home in  flamingo estate in Nakuru Town East Sub-county Nakuru County on September, 29, 2022

Photo credit: Mercy Koskei | Nation Media Group

A family in Flamingo estate in Nakuru Town East sub-county is mourning after a 17-year-old girl took her own life at home after she was ordered to cut her hair at school.

Shamamsy Wanjiru, a Form Three student at Langalanga Secondary School, was found hanging inside their house by her younger sister on Wednesday evening.

Family, friends and neighbours were on Thursday trying to come to terms with the death of the girl, whose promising life was cut short.

Police County Commander Peter Mwanzo confirmed the incident, saying the matter was under investigation.

The girl’s foster mother, Ms Rosemary Wanjiru, said her daughter had been found undoing her hair with 13 other girls during the closing school assembly on September 16, prompting her class teacher to take action against them.

As punishment, the school ordered the girls to cut their hair before reporting back to school on September 28 after a one-week midterm break.

The students were asked to report back to school on Tuesday with their parents, which Ms Wanjiru said she did, though the girl was unhappy about the school orders.

“As for me, I didn’t take it seriously, because when I was at the school with other parents, the teacher was joking that even [President William Ruto’s wife] had cut her hair,” she said.

“We just advised them to follow the instructions given, telling them it was not the end of life and they should do it and continue with their studies.”

On their way home, Ms Wanjiru said, she discussed the issue with her daughter and at home, she sat her down and convinced her she was being punished for disobeying school rules and she agreed to cut her hair.

On Wednesday afternoon, Ms Wanjiru gave her daughter some money and asked her to cook lunch before proceeding to a neighbouring barbershop.

The girl then dropped lunch for her grandmother, who was working a few metres from their home and returned home, only for her lifeless body to be found hanging in the house.

“That day in school we were shown photos of the students who had been asked to shave their hair, but my daughter was not among them,” Ms Wanjiru said.

“I asked her and she told me that she was not among the girls who were found undoing their hair in the assembly. Her class teacher noted that she had undone only two lines while giving out report books, asking her to also cut the hair.”

An album photo of Shamamsy Wanjiru, a Form Three student at Langalanga Secondary School who died by suspected suicide

Photo credit: Courtesy

Ms Wanjiru said she took in the girl and her younger sister after their mother died.

She said her daughter was a hardworking and humble girl who aspired to become a nurse.

“She was a beautiful girl, she loved herself very much. Cutting her hair stressed her out and she felt like she had been bullied, but as a parent I advised her to follow what she had been told by the school administration,” she said.

“I don’t blame the teacher. She didn’t know that she would kill herself by just telling her to cut her hair.

“She was always smiling in the evening. She would hug me, asking about how my day was and telling me she had missed me. I don’t know what to say, I was not expecting the punishment she was given would cost her life.”

Ms Wanjiru recalled that the family arranged a surprise birthday party for her daughter earlier this year and she was happy about it.

Her grandmother, Ms Jane Wairimu, said the girl’s mother died when she was in Class Three.

She said her granddaughter had plaited her hair on Saturday as she prepared to return to school on Monday for a new term.

The school asked the girl to go back home and return with a parent on Wednesday, but she had not mentioned the issue to her grandmother until that day, when she showed her the letter from school.

"She was a disciplined girl. She did not appear to be disturbed with the issue, but she had told her siblings she would not cut her hair. She had even written an apology letter to her class teacher, but she had not submitted it," Ms Wairimu said.

The girl’s body was taken to the Nakuru Level Five Hospital mortuary.