What you need to know:
- The officer, only identified as Corporal Mutunga, shot himself in his vehicle early Wednesday morning immediately after reporting for duty
- His colleagues said he did not leave a suicide note and that the motive for the suicide remains unclear
A junior police officer died by suicide on Wednesday morning after he shot himself at the DCI headquarters on Kiambu Road.
The officer, only identified as Corporal Mutunga, shot himself in his vehicle early Wednesday morning immediately after reporting for duty.
"He shot himself with his pistol and died instantly," a colleague of the deceased told the Nation.
His colleagues said he did not leave a suicide note and that the motive for the suicide remains unclear.
His body has since been taken to the mortuary for an autopsy.
Cases of police officers dying by suicide are once again on the rise in the country.
On Friday last week, senior officer Ezra Ouma of Kayole police station shot himself at his home in Nairobi's Utawala area.
Before the incident, the officer, who was in charge of special operations at the station, had called his colleague to tell her that he is taking his own life.
"She rushed to his house and on arrival was informed by neighbours that the officer had shot himself and had been rushed to Komacrock Hospital. She went to the hospital where she found that the officer had shot himself in the chin and died before being attended to," a police report said.
Police found a Beretta pistol with 12 rounds of ammunition and an empty cartridge at the scene.
Investigations later revealed that the deceased had shot one Phillip Muhavi Ayieka, 35, in the left foot.
On the same day in Embu County, a 50-year-old police officer attached to Kianjakoma Police Station committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree.
According to police, the deceased was off duty at his home with his wife when he decided to take a walk outside the house alone.
Shortly after, his wife was startled by screams from neighbours and went outside to find her husband hanging from a tree by his neck.
It was then discovered that the officer had been undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder at the Chiromo Medical Centre since November last year and had been discharged in February this year.
No suicide note was found at the scene.
Cases of suicide among uniformed officers have been linked to stress and trauma caused by the demanding nature of their work.
The National Police Service Commission has a working counselling policy for its members, whose work is complemented by the National Police Chaplaincy Directorate, both of which enable any member of the service in need of counselling to seek professional counselling services when the need arises.
Following assessment, officers in need of further care are referred to the Chiromo Hospital Group, which is run by mental health experts.
Mental health experts have noted that the working environment of officers, combined with long periods away from family and friends, regular transfers and the lack of systematic counselling services, have also long been detrimental to the mental well-being of officers.
A report by the Task Force on Mental Health in Kenya recommended that mental illness be declared a national emergency of epidemic proportions and that a Mental Wellness and Happiness Commission be established to monitor the state of mental health and happiness among Kenyans.
The Task Force recommended that suicide be decriminalised to reduce the stigma associated with such acts and to promote early identification, treatment and follow-up of people at risk of suicide.
However, the increasing number of suicides and killings by police officers has led to a misunderstanding of the general state of mental health among officers in the country.
"We keep forgetting that police officers are ordinary people in an extraordinary environment. Being on the front line responding to terror threats and picking up bodies from the Yala River is not what human beings are made for," top psychiatrist, Dr Frank Njenga said at the time.
Read also: Frank Njenga: I’m not about to slow down
The report recommended that officers who show symptoms of mental illness should be denied access to firearms.