The Suicide Stump

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In Kenya, the population is staggering, literally and I don’t mean the number, forty five million plus of us. There are more young people than those from the older generation.


Depending on how you arrange the statistics, it leaves us swaying hence the state of joblessness among the majority.


Were there more elderly people, the story might have been different. The youth are dying at a very high rate. In a few years, tables might turn if we don’t do something.


I’m a university student and naturally while switching classes from one to the next, I pass my eyes over the noticeboard (highly not so natural for most).


I can’t count the number of times I have seen notices, printed on green, yellow or pink paper announcing the untimely death of this or other student.


Hardly do they ever read, this or that student took their own life yet that is the real story on the ground. It mentions the name of the deceased, passes condolences and boom, the list of Cc, signature, the end.


Sugarcoating. And hence the cycle never stops. At any particular time, there are 3 or more notices at the same time. None reporting term dates but another upcoming burial.


Life goes on. The school, university or not, has failed. They don’t tell their students about suicide. The administration presses it’s hands and goes on its knees, hoping that somehow, through osmosis it will end.


Another week comes and the story keeps going. It is like a running full-time operational business.


I am guilty. Of suicidal thoughts as well as dismissing suicide. I avoid talking about it amongst my peers. When it comes up, I quickly dismiss it as ‘hiyo ni ujinga, mimi siwezi‘ but I know it’s a lie because I have tried it.


This isn’t about me, it’s about those who ‘succeeded’. Success in this case, nothing to be celebrated. Mourned yes. And for those who don’t understand a thing about the real causes, criticise.


That little boy who killed himself over an avocado. Whaaaaat? you may say. Napenda avocado lakini hapana. Si angeambia mama yake anunue ingine. That is no reason to kill self.


This is about the girl who took her life because she was raped. Get on with it, people have gone through worse.


The boy who couldn’t take that his parents were too busy with their professions and compensating him with material goods yet he wanted their love. And attention. Sasa huyu, I wish I was in their shoes.


The school going kid who couldn’t take it anymore when his parents became too strict with him over his homework. He ended it. That is not an excuse, there are people dying (pun intended) to go to school.


This is for that single mother who had no means to provide for their children. It was hard for her, she couldn’t cope. But I was brought up by a single parent and we did fine in poverty.


A divorcee, after the court processes and signing the papers ending the long term marriage, all the energy went with it. They should have waited for another spouse, there is nothing like a soul mate.


A candidate who after eight or four years of toiling was not satisfied with the results. The society has labelled them a failure. The parents saying they wasted their money. The C students and below are the leaders of the country..


The end point came when the drug abuse couldn’t stop, not after endless sessions of rehabilitation, deciding to give peace to his family, he finishes it. He should have taken more time, drug addiction recovery is a slow process.


No matter how ‘lame’ a reason made someone take their life, the society will talk. People will rant about what the already dead person should have done. Pray more. Believe in God. Seek help. Blah blah blah. Is it as easy as we make it sound?


Suicide is a problem affecting the entire world. Each year, we spend hours and hours analysing what we can do about the road situationa to curb the increasing death tolls in this country. Yet this is only a small fraction of what the causes of death entails.


As it stands, the suicide rate in Kenya has peaked. More and more younger people are cutting their lives short. We report the cases and pick death certificates (as if it’s an accomplishment) then hush, silence befell the land.


The truth is, Kenya ranks 6th in suicide prevalence in Africa. Our neighbours Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan represent the continent on the top 25 in the world.


This should inform us in clear bold letters that there is something wrong. What and where is the root of the matter?


We should be talking about depression. This is the main cause why we are losing lives. Lives of those who haven’t even attained their prime years. You could say we are losing labour. Hakuna job anyway, let them go and reduce the stiff competition.


We are a heartless people. We abandon those facing depression. We overlook signs that one has given up, they can’t fight anymore. We are all so busy going about our activities we forget to smile, ask the other person how they are doing.


When they begin sharing their highly valued clothes, utensils, books, electonics and any other property, we accept. They are moving up the social ladder, we come to our own conclusions. We are a selfish people.


Let’s start by being more considerate. If a friend or colleague sends you a text or you see a post on their social media platforms that is laden with emotions, call them, make a visit, you might just be the one to save them from impending self-doom.


The heaven-bound will condemn them with words from Holy books their ‘sinful acts’ when they survive. Recommend therapy if they are facing problems that are overwhelming them. Do not disregard their depression for a passing wind.


Give you the peace of not dressing in black drenched in tears reading their eulogy and them of not being in a closed box. There is no freedom in a casket six feet under.


We need to leave a stump of the suicide tree and quit watering its roots assuring ourselves that it’s branches won’t sprout death leaves.



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Teller of 'taboo-d' tales.

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