The Ripple Effect of Suicide
“I lost my mother to suicide about three weeks ago and I seriously considered killing myself too so I didn’t have to deal with the pain. She was the only reason I was still alive and I didn’t feel like living without her. I almost died by suicide. Its grasp was too strong, and I felt hopeless. I believed there weren’t people who cared whether I lived or died. Suicide is still a topic that is less talked about, and it is a detriment to all of us because it leaves people living with suicidal feelings and ideation in silence. People who consider suicide or end up killing themselves are considered weak, perhaps filled with irrational thoughts and self-hate something which is not the truth. They aren’t pathetic people feeling sorry for themselves. When the mind is trapped in trauma that is not healing no matter how much therapy, medicines, exercise, and everything else you try, each second is unbearable torture and thus death seems the only way to relief. I want people to understand that and stop judging and blaming those who do kill themselves,” Ruth stated.
“The emotional destruction of suicide is unrepairable most, especially to those left by the deceased. Those that are left behind to deal with the tragedy even those you didn’t know loved you are usually destroyed emotionally and their life is changed forever. The pain you must feel to take you to the edge of that decision must be horrific, and so difficult to live with yet, its effects cascade to others connected to you. Would you really want to leave such pain behind for your loved ones known and unknown to deal with? Please know you are not alone. If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally or has concerns about their mental health, there are ways to get help. Call someone, and reach out, please. Your pain may end but everyone who loves you will forever be changed and have pain that is unbearable and indescribable. No one wants to lose someone they love for any reason. Please seek help! There are so many that want to help you so let them try. Life is complicated, hard, and often a constant struggle. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. There are too many people that care in the world. I am still here. How did I get here? Thinking about the pain I would cause my kids, friends, and family stopped me. I thought about them and resolved that I needed to take care of them. I did commit that I would no longer live with these feelings in silence. However, the fact that I was willing to talk to someone about my pain and there was someone willing to listen meant there was still some hope for improvement. Thus, the suicidal thoughts no longer had a grasp on me,” Ruth advised.
Every year on the 10th of September each year the focus is attention on suicide prevention, stigma reduction, and awareness creation among organizations, government, and the public. “Creating hope through action” is the triennial theme for World Suicide Prevention Day from 2021 – 2023. This theme is a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and light in all of us. By creating hope through action, we can signal to people experiencing suicidal thoughts that there is hope and that we care and want to support them. It also suggests that what we do however our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling. Lastly, it highlights the importance of setting suicide prevention as a priority public health agenda by countries, especially in those areas, particularly where access to mental health services and availability of evidence-based interventions are already low. Building on this theme and spreading this message over the three years, we can envision a world can be envisioned where suicide is less being not so prevalent.
Suicide is among the leading causes of death among young people in many countries, Kenya included, yet the policy and research investment in its prevention has been relatively small.
The prevention of suicide is complex and, while feasible, no easy task; it requires a coordinated
multi-sectoral response of the health, education, labor, faith-based organizations, civil society, non-governmental organizations, and agriculture sectors among others. Comprehensive public health action to prevent suicide addresses the population at large as well as vulnerable groups. It involves a whole series of activities, ranging from the environmental control of risk factors and means for suicide to early identification, and effective treatment of people with mental health disorders and as well as responsible reporting of suicide by the media.
Kenya recently launched the Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2026. This strategy aims to attain a 10% reduction in suicide mortality by 2026 through the amendments of relevant legislative frameworks and policies for effective suicide prevention and development, and the implementation of a data system on suicide risk surveillance. It also sets the direction for improving access to mental health services. This includes the establishment of suicide prevention helplines and integration of care at community and primary health levels. Additionally, it guides public education on suicide prevention and combating stigma.
There is a need for all relevant stakeholders to support the full implementation of this strategy. The strategy informs the coordination, partnerships, and monitoring necessary to guide the implementation of successful suicide prevention mechanisms to achieve the set vision of a healthy nation where there are fewer deaths from suicide.