Perspectives on reasons for suicidal behaviour and recommendations for suicide prevention in Kenya: qualitative study

Ongeri L, Nyawira M, Kariuki SM, Bitta M, Schubart C, Penninx BEJJ, Newton CRJC, Tijdink JK
BJPsych Open. 2023;9

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BACKGROUND: Little is known about the reasons for suicidal behaviour in Africa, and communities' perception of suicide prevention. A contextualised understanding of these reasons is important in guiding the implementation of potential suicide prevention interventions in specific settings. AIMS: To understand ideas, experiences and opinions on reasons contributing to suicidal behaviour in the Coast region of Kenya, and provide recommendations for suicide prevention. METHOD: We conducted a qualitative study with various groups of key informants residing in the Coast region of Kenya, using in-depth interviews. Audio-recorded interviews were transcribed and translated from the local language before thematic inductive content analysis. RESULTS: From the 25 in-depth interviews, we identified four key themes as reasons given for suicidal behaviour: interpersonal and relationship problems, financial and economic difficulties, mental health conditions and religious and cultural influences. These reasons were observed to be interrelated with each other and well-aligned to the suggested recommendations for suicide prevention. We found six key recommendations from our thematic content analysis: (a) increasing access to counselling and social support, (b) improving mental health awareness and skills training, (c) restriction of suicide means, (d) decriminalisation of suicide, (e) economic and education empowerment and (f) encouraging religion and spirituality. CONCLUSIONS: The reasons for suicidal behaviour are comparable with high-income countries, but suggested prevention strategies are more contextualised to our setting. A multifaceted approach in preventing suicide in (coastal) Kenya is warranted based on the varied reasons suggested. Community-based interventions will likely improve and increase access to suicide prevention in this study area.