Supposing that my wife went to the police at any one of the times I tried to kill myself? I would have been in jail. David Njuguna, a volunteer with Befrienders Kenya, a suicide prevention organization.
(As quoted in The Global Press Journal, Article by Lydia Matata, published on the February 10, 2017 )

In Kenya, the penal code lists suicide as a misdemeanor .That is, it is a crime to try and or take one’s life. It is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or with a fine, or with both. What then is “…a fine or with both.” An obvious assumption is that it is measure of the PUNISHMENT prescribed to a person found guilty of attempted suicide.  Although the idea that is to take a life, is not easily arrived. The punishment is self-expletory. Due to the punitive elements of such law, a person that suffers from the disorder prefers to withdraw from society. Instead, they would rather suffer the consequences of the disorder in silence. It becomes another struggle in that person’s life. All in attempt to conceal the abnormal mental state. This works even against the government’s initiatives to promote mental health. In fact, this can easily explain away the low numbers of suicide reports even when there is an apparent rise of actual cases.

Indeed, many know of those that struggle with suicidal tendencies, but do not care enough to report even as pretenses for a better community. The general perception is that a suicidal individual is deprived of attention or worse still of their medical care to shape up and conform to at least manage whatever pressures they could be experiencing. Besides, everyone else without such mental afflictions is said to be normal.

Unfortunately, upon serious mental illness, one would further lose their civil liberties and be subjected to forceful medical procedures. They are to be subjected to an experience of loss of freedoms such as movement. It is epitomized by false imprisonment or otherwise similar restraints.

It is therefore difficult (if at all) to justify a reason for such punitive laws. The Pandemic experienced in 2020 exposed the many societal misgivings. The interpersonal relationships were tested to the brink of evolution. The internet provided a much-needed distraction while social cracks enlarged. The need for mental health medicare and awareness has never been greater. It is a call to action. All stakeholders to convene would forge appropriate action points to discuss already known facts. Thereafter such would provide light on the apparent social lapses that otherwise persist in presence of faulty laws. Of course, to address such flaws it must be through the established processes.

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