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I slit wrist but woke up in hospital: Depression leaves youths suicidal

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It all started in high school. Fiona Imbolo, now 21, was always moody and sad, and she didn’t know why.

Sometimes she would shut off the world, not wanting to talk to anyone. Complete withdrawal was her second nature. She was sad and had no reason for it.

Fiona, who had to take a break from school to recuperate, shares what many other young people her age go through: depression.

To cope with her situation, she twice tried to self-inflict pain by cutting herself with razor blades on her thigh. Last year, she attempted suicide when she couldn’t take it anymore.

“I was alone at my parent’s house and I Googled how one might end her life, and I decided to cut my wrist. I even bought anesthesia so it would be an easy process,” she says.

Her parents did not notice her slide to self-destruction, until she wound up in hospital. “My dad was really angry. He did not come on the first day. I only saw him on the day I was discharged. He could not understand why I had done what I did,” she says.

“He has never talked about it but I don’t blame him. The older generation did not have anyone to teach them [about mental health]. All they know is you take children to school, they get a job and get married.”

Fiona was admitted for eight days, twice undergoing a surgical procedure, electroconvulsive therapy. After being discharged, some of her family members scolded her, while friends shunned her.

“I’ve never cried that hard in my life. I didn’t want to wake up. It’s an indescribable feeling that I can’t even explain,” she says.

Now a student at JKUAT, Fiona says the only person she is comfortable discussing the issue with is her best friend Nikita because they are both learning how to deal with depression.

“When you come out [of a spell of depression], people see you differently. They pity you, walk on eggshells and cannot talk to you like they used. I don’t want that, I want it to be normal like before,” Fiona says.

Read: My battle with depression: Trio’s mental illness diaries

SUPPORT SYSTEM

Were it not for Nikita, Fiona believes she would not be alive today.

“When things become overwhelming, you feel like people don’t support you and you are not really important to anyone. You ask yourself, why struggle through it? There is no reason to struggle with life, so you might as well just end it,” she says.

“When you are depressed you can have suicidal thoughts. Sometimes you don’t find value in things. And when you have suicidal thoughts you have to push them away plenty of times, so you have to keep on finding reasons to fight and stay alive, and when you don’t find one, you succumb.”

Fiona says for most youth, depression comes when they try to compare their lives with others’ and cave in to external pressure.

“When you see people living a lavish lifestyle and you feel like you will never be at that point, it can cause depression. That is what most young people do,” she says.

Fiona says the younger generation knows issues surrounding mental health and it is only them who can change the narrative. She also advises young people to be more open to talking to their parents

“I am still battling and trying to figure out how to live with depression. People should accept it’s a problem, it is an illness and like most people, you need to find help. You should not feel like you have to go through things alone,” Fiona says.

She has started a campaign on sensitising people, especially the older generation, about mental health. Fiona has also collaborated with Befrienders Kenya, an organisation that deals with people going through depression and suicidal thoughts.

SECOND-HIGHEST YOUTH KILLER

A World Health Organisation report released in 2017 indicated that someone dies every 40 seconds globally due to suicide, and that most victims are youths between ages 15-29.

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The report noted that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among the youth. It also showed that approximately more than 300 million people are affected by depression globally, and the condition is linked to the suicides of close to 800,000 people each year. Many more attempt suicide.

Suicide is associated with mental disorders, such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and alcohol and other substance abuse.

Other risk factors include access to firearms, physical or sexual abuse, unemployment, strained relationships, imprisonment, chronic physical illness, financial difficulties, loneliness and exposure to the suicidal behaviour of others.

The most common methods of suicide globally include ingestion of pesticide, hanging and use of firearms.

According to data from World Population Review, in 2017, Kenya was number 114 out of 175 countries with a suicide rate of 6.5 per 100,000. The data further showed a 58% increase in suicide rates between 2008 and 2017.

Year 2017 recorded the highest cases of suicide reported, 421, while 2010 recorded the least, 75. The years 2014-16 recorded 301, 221 and 302 cases respectively.

Another survey (Economic Survey 2018, by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics) shows that in Kenya, more men commit suicide than women. The major cause, the study found out, is depression, in which the country is ranked sixth in Africa.

Some 79% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.

HELPING THE SUICIDAL

Befrienders psychotherapist Hiram Chomba says they get an average of 15 calls a day from people attempting to end their lives.

Psychotherapy is used to identify mental health treatment using psychological rather than medical approaches.

Chomba says though more men commit suicide, women are the ones who reach out the most. Once they get a call, Chomba says the first thing they do is to listen.

“Listening to the person express his or her self reduces risk and is therapeutic. Some even open up while crying, and we reassure them we are here for them. We later assess the risk and if it is high, we ask for their kin’s contacts. We then schedule a free session for them,” he says.

Having just one branch in Nairobi, Chomba says they sometimes refer callers from other regions to counselors in their area. However, they also offer online services.

“We have so far done two trainings in Kikuyu and Mutuini, Nairobi, where we have trained people in listening skills and how to assess suicide risks,” he says.

Although there is still a lot of stigmatisation, mainly due to lack of information, Chomba says awareness on mental health issues has increased in the recent past.

“When people don’t understand a phenomenon, they ground it in superstition or stereotypes. However, people are changing their attitude,” he says.

Chomba says the causes of depression could be biological, economical, psychosocial and shared genetic vulnerabilities, like bipolar disorder.

“High-risk factors include a previous suicide attempt and parental issues, like being raised in an abusive family,” he says.

Chomba says the biggest warning signs are preoccupation with death, where one is always posting about death and pointing out the desire to die.

“Giving out things valuable to them is also a huge warning sign,” he says.

Chomba urged anyone going through mental health issues to seek help because there are a lot of resources and people willing to help.

“If you feel depressed, get assessed and diagnosed by a professional. Reach out, even if it’s your friend or neighbour who is going through depression,” he says.

“Not everyone who is depressed is suicidal, but all suicidal cases have suicidal ideations. Suicide is the secret no one should hide.”

Read: I’ve fought depression since last year — Mukami Mwaura

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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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