Tragic Self-Immolation Incident Highlights Nairobi’s Mental Health Crisis

Nairobi, October 24, 2023 – In a heart-wrenching incident on Monday, a 29-year-old man, Denise Gakuru, tragically took his own life by setting himself ablaze in his residence in the Kasarani district of Nairobi, according to local police.

Neighbours, alerted by the fire, rushed to Gakuru’s aid, discovering him with grievous burn injuries. Despite their swift response, transporting him to the nearest medical facility, Gakuru sadly passed away due to the severity of his wounds.

While the exact reasons for Gakuru’s drastic action remain unclear, it is believed to be part of a disturbing trend sweeping across the nation. In recent days, there has been a spike in self-inflicted deaths, ostensibly attributed to the country’s crippling economic downturn and skyrocketing unemployment rates.

Experts in the field of mental health have repeatedly raised alarms about this escalating situation, describing it as a ‘ticking time bomb’. The emotional and psychological strain resulting from economic hardships appears to be taking an immeasurable toll on the nation’s populace.

Based on preliminary police findings, it’s been deduced that Gakuru used paraffin, likely procured from a local retailer, to soak his clothing. He then further drenched himself in the flammable liquid, wrapped the saturated cloth around himself, and tragically ignited it using a matchbox. Subsequent to the incident, his remains were transported to Kenyatta National Hospital, awaiting a formal post-mortem examination.

Disturbingly, this marks the second instance this year where an individual has resorted to self-immolation as a method of suicide in Kenya. Earlier in August, a student from the Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) similarly set himself alight, purportedly in protest against the spiralling cost of living. He succumbed to his injuries shortly after being admitted to a hospital.

However, the harrowing incidents don’t stop there. Merely a few weeks ago, a student from Strathmore University took a fatal leap from the fifth floor of a local shopping mall. This incident eerily followed another similar tragedy where a student from Jaramogi University in Siaya County ended his life, reportedly due to personal heartbreak.

But the epidemic of mental health struggles and resultant suicides isn’t restricted to civilians. The law enforcement community has been equally impacted. This month alone, six police officers tragically chose to end their lives, leaving the nation in shock and further underscoring the gravity of the mental health crisis gripping Kenya.

These incidents collectively highlight the urgent need for immediate intervention and support, both in terms of economic policy shifts and robust mental health initiatives. The tragedies underscore a desperate call to action to safeguard the nation’s well-being.

For anyone struggling with these issues, local helplines and counselling services are available. It’s vital to reach out and remember: you are not alone.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *