Address teen suicides now

Tuesday September 12 2017

By EDITORIAL
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The number of teenagers committing suicide should shock experts and policymakers to action.

According to the Ministry of Health, at least seven million Kenyans have attempted suicide, with young people aged 12 to 29 being the most vulnerable.

This week, a 15-year-old committed suicide in Homa Bay after failing to get the grades he wished for.

Failure to speak up and raise awareness on teen suicide is only exacerbating the problem.

MENTAL HEALTH
Sadly, suicide is a taboo subject, the default public reaction to it being to blame it on teachers, parents or both.

Worse, society stigmatises the bereaved and often fails to recognise what suicide is: a result of depression, schizophrenia and other mental health challenges such as bipolar disorder, or even a family history of suicides.

Whether depression, anxiety, societal and peer pressure or social media influence are pushing our teens to the edge needs to be investigated and quick interventions sought to address these silent deaths that are taking a toll on families.

RESEARCH

Blame games can only stand in the way.

Urgent studies should be conducted and national data collected to identify stressful life issues that are leading teens (and adults too) into taking their own lives.

And this is not only about preventing suicides among teens.

It is also about addressing other risky societal behaviours, including drug and substance abuse.