Increased cases of suicide cases
According to the World Health Organization in 2000, throughout the world, approximately 1,000,000 people died of suicide. More than 50% of this constitutes the youth who are in higher levels of education; colleges and universities. This translates to a global mortality rate of 16% or one death every 40 seconds. This makes the number of deaths by suicide worldwide higher than the total number of deaths from war and homicide combined. This only means that preventive measures have to be put in place if we will save the current and even future generations.
the number of deaths by suicide worldwide higher than the total number of deaths from war and homicide combined.
In contemporary African society, suicide was viewed as an offense and a sign of bad omen, a belief that could have been the reason why many people shied away from committing suicide. Those who were caught committing the offense faced dire consequences. This, however, is not the case today. Through civilization, modern education and western influence; the narrative has changed. Such exposure among other factors has contributed to the high number of suicidal cases in society.
Dr. Chitayi Marabula, a Medical Doctor and Mental Health Advocate say, “It is not surprising that suicide is the second leading cause of death among youths aged 15-29 years. In July 2015, a report by Kenyatta National Hospital showed over 100 cases of attempted suicide among the youth between 18 and 25 years (mostly campus students) within a span of 2 months. Apparently, even young kids below age 15 have reported cases of suicide throughout the country. A series of student suicide in campuses in the last few months are raising eyebrows. The surge in suicide cases among young men and women is indeed giving the FOCUS Kenya gray hair, something has to be done pretty fast before the vice spreads to a larger population of campus students. This is becoming a major concern to FOCUS Kenya.
Some of the documented cases of suicide on campus are as captured below.
- July 2016, a Kenyatta University student hanged himself after losing his school fees equivalent to 80,000 in a football bet.
- September 2017, a second-year student at Jomo Kenyatta University committed suicide outside varsity premises over squabbles on his apparent poor grades.
- April 2, 2018, a second-year Computer Science student at Chuka University allegedly cut his life short over relationship issues.
- July 29, 2018, a fourth-year Petroleum and Engineering student at JKUAT main campus cut short his life. He had stated a lack of money and stress over upcoming end semester exams to be the reasons for taking his life.
Suicide Prevention a mainstream religious activity
According to Reverend Dr.GaryGunderson, suicide prevention is a very mainstream religious activity that builds from what the vast majority of the congregation already want to do. They just don’t tend to name the significance of what they are doing as suicide prevention. Statistically, every 1/10 people are affected by suicide in one way or the other. The list ranges from those who have lost their lives through suicide to those who work tirelessly to prevent suicide and suicide attempts.
The Role of FOCUS Kenya
FOCUS Kenya plays a major role and is at the center stage in combating suicide among college and university students. FOCUS Kenya and other Christian organizations that it partners with; prove to be the best available bodies for interventions in suicide prevention.
Preparing the youth for today’s challenges
Preparing the youth for today’s challenges- This can be made possible by working closely with the STEM Staff who administer closely with the students in different colleges and universities. Establishment of formal and structural mentorship programs among students and associates is a way of making this a success. When students join institutions of learning, they come from different backgrounds and cultures. People have different upbringings too and someone could be going through something at different times and lacking figures to emulate could lead to suicidal thoughts. When students are nurtured to grow spiritually, even such thoughts as suicide becomes a thing in the past.
Involvement in ministry while on Campus
FOCUS creates forums aimed at introducing Students to ministry right from the first year. They go through a circle of growth and transformation right from their first year through Anza Fit (a first year’s transition program) and Vuka Fit (a finalist transition program). During these forums, the students get a platform to know each other and discuss the challenges they face. This helps them grow spiritually and learn to look at life from different perspectives. FOCUS also offers mentorship by the staff and Associates, especially those who have received training to addresses their own exposure to suicide. It also encourages peer-mentorship amongst the students. This serves to help the students to learn to share their life struggles with others and reduces suicidal thoughts in them.
Interventions and follow-up
Interventions and follow-ups are done to students who are affected by suicide in one way or the other. To those who have been affected by suicide, FOCUS does a follow-up on them;
The Gospel, the ultimate Remedy
In conclusion, Christians should note that the Gospel is itself a response to the conditions that led many people to attempt suicide. They should, therefore, turn to scriptures during such times. Christianity acknowledges the emptiness and brokenness of the world and offers hope, newness and abundant life. Jesus Himself shared in man’s pain and suffering and He provides redemption and restoration. It is the role of all Christians to work together to eradicate suicide-related deaths as it is slowly becoming a national disaster.