An online video of college students beating a colleague to a pulp has shocked Kenyans. The crime? The young man was caught kissing the girlfriend of one of the aggressors.
While this may sound mundane, mental health specialists are raising the red flag.
A week ago, a 19-year-old polytechnic student allegedly filmed herself committing suicide after a misunderstanding with her boyfriend, forming part of worrying statistics of college students taking their own lives.
The friends of the Meru National Polytechnic student quoted her emotionally narrate how her boyfriend was cheating on her. She said she was tired of living as life would be meaningless without him.
Disregarding their advice not to take her life, the charming teenager, who was eulogised as sociable, talented and a dedicated Christian, swallowed an overdose of pills that killed her three days later.
In February, another shocking case in which a male student at Kaiboi Technical Institute in Nandi County stabbed his girlfriend and turned the knife on himself over unrequited love hit the news in what seemed to follow a similar script as what had happened earlier in the neighbouring Sang’alo Institute of Science and Technology in 2018.
Mr Anthony Murimi, another youth in Meru, caused a stir when he climbed a 60-metre high mast and threatened to jump. Police and anxious onlookers pleaded with him to come down in vain.
Ironically, the same crowd which begged the miraa-chewing youth to come down bayed for his blood moments after the Meru disaster team and Embu fire fighters tactfully brought him down using ropes.
The police whisked the man to safety and rushed him to Meru Level Five Hospital for mental examination. He was later charged in court with attempted suicide.
And from last year’s survey on universities, 12 students took their own lives — the number could be higher.
Suicides, murders and extreme violence have now become a trend in institutions of higher learning, and stakeholders have not been able to come up with solutions.
Dr Elizabeth Ngozi, a therapist and lecturer at Tangaza University College, her University of Nairobi counterpart Charles Kimamo and Dr Margaret Kagwe, who is a consultant in counselling, blame these deaths on the breakdown of the societal structure and failure to nurture children in a way that prepares them for adult life.
Dr Ngozi told the Saturday Nation that most issues reported to her desk by students are to do with poor self-esteem, family wrangles, poor upbringing, loneliness, cyberbullying and depression, which are the major contributors to the mental challenges facing the youth in the current changing society globally.
“The family environment today seems to lack moral training, laws and canes (disciplinary measures). Many are not taught the real value of life,” Dr Ngozi said.
Dr Kagwe, the founder of Esteem Psychology Magazine, said parents are too busy working to help their children to develop life skills at a tender stage, so the youngsters tend to find suicide an easy way out when confronted with realities of life.
“Teenage[hood] is the stage where the individual engages in 'search for identity'. It is also referred to as the stage of turmoil while transitioning from childhood to adulthood. If the identity crisis is not successfully resolved, fitting in becomes a big issue. Coupled with academic and social challenges, depression can set in, and suicide becomes an exit route,” Dr Kagwe said.