Govt. unveil mental health and suicide prevention action plan 

Nairobi, KENYA 12 September 2017 – The Government has laid out an elaborate strategy to address the suicide mortality problem and its high negative impacts to the society.

The Ministry of Health has adopted strategic and evidence-based approaches in the Kenya Health Policy 2014-2030, the Kenya Mental Health Policy 2015-2030 and Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan 2013-2017 to address suicide prevention through screening for early detection, access to treatment and care for persons with suicidal behavior.

Speaking during the celebration to mark the World Suicide Prevention Day at Mathari Teaching and Referral Hospital on Monday September 11, the Principal Secretary for Health, Dr. Julius Korir lamented over the rising cases of suicide mortalities, now the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.

Globally, more than 800,000 people die annually through suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt.

The PS who was represented by the Head of Curative and Rehabilitative Services, Dr. Izaq Odongo revealed that the Kenya Mental Health Policy has prioritized the development of a Suicide Prevention Strategy and Program and urged all the stakeholders to work with the Ministry in the endeavor which, will provide a framework for comprehensive and evidence based management of suicidal behaviour and associated morbidity and complications.

The PS urged the members of communities to take responsibility in looking out for those who may be in a state of struggle and hopelessness, connect with them, communicate with them and care for them in line with this year’s suicide prevention day theme “Take a minute, change a life.”

He said suicide and suicidal behaviors are caused by biological, social, psychological, cultural and economic factors. and the situation is complicated by high stigma attached to suicide and suicidal behavior, as well as other challenges such as legal barriers that deter people from opening up and getting access to the needed care.

Most suicides occur in low and middle-income countries where there are huge gaps in health systems and resources which limit early identification, treatment and support of people in need.

“This striking facts make suicide a serious global public health problem that needs to be tackled urgently in partnership and collaboration of all stakeholders,” he argued.

He called for enhancement and strengthening of protective factors, mitigation on the risks factors and addressing barriers which hinder access to care, provision of emergency response and intervention for those in distress.

He also appealed to all stakeholders to partner and collaborate across the sectors to pull resources together for effective implementation of policies, strategies and priority actions to prevent suicidal behaviour and suicide.

“We need to provide the highest standards of healthcare services to persons with morbidity and problems potential risks of suicide. Together, let us work towards the ultimate goal of preventing suicide,” he said.