Ministry wants suicide to be classified as a mental disorder

The Ministry of Health wants Article 226 of the Penal Code repealed to recognize suicide as a mental health disorder.
Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri says the Article classifies suicide attempts as a misdemeanor punishable by law rather than approaching it as a mental health problem.
According to Dr Muraguri, the law has contributed to the stigma that is often associated with mental health illnesses and discourages people from seeking help on time thus curtailing timely access to treatment.
“Suicide is a global problem and we have to look at it as a mental health issue rather than criminalizing it because by the time someone decides to take his life, there are a number of challenges he is facing and is unable to cope,” Dr Muraguri said.
He spoke during the 10th Mental Health Care & Treatment conference at the Intercontinental Hotel Nairobi.
According to the ministry statistics, Kenya ranks 29th globally with 7,126 deaths related to suicide recorded every year.
“For us in Kenya, suicide is a problem with young people who are not supported very well or who suffer from depression that is never recognized as such and therefore goes untreated. We need to ensure that parents are able to see the first signs of problems,” he added.
Deputy Director of Mental Health, Catherine Syengo emphasized the importance of identifying causes that trigger the problem saying that suicide is 100 per cent preventable.
She cited substance abuse disorders, frustrations in life, depression and other mental illnesses as some of the reasons that drive suicide and suicide attempts.
“Those who abuse drugs and especially alcohol are six times more likely to commit suicide because one’s reasoning capacity is inhibited when drunk,” she explained.

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