NAIROBI. At least 12 university students have committed suicide since January in a worrying trend for education stakeholders, who are now seeking ways to address the problem.
The latest case involved a fourth-year student who was set to graduate this month. The university where he was studying requested that its name and that of the student not be revealed because the family was yet to come to terms with the loss.
Some of the causes of suicides in universities have been identified as depression, mental illness, relationships among students gone sour and family rows.
Cases of suicides in universities have also been recorded in previous years but many universities have always been reluctant to share statistics for fear that this could portray their institutions in a negative light.
University managers in Kenya told the Nation that, even though the actual number of suicides may be small compared with the student population in both public and private universities, the trend was worrying. They have since tasked their deans of students to look into ways of dealing with suicides in their respective institutions.
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Many universities were reluctant to share statistics of suicides in their institutions, even though they admitted that such cases had been reported.
Some of the cases, however, have burst into the public limelight. For instance, last month, a second-year law student at the University of Nairobi, who was on holiday, committed suicide in Nakuru a few days before he was to report back to the university's Parklands campus. The university's management acknowledged the incident but declined to reveal the name of the student.
“We are aware of the death of the law student but he died while at home and therefore we are not in a position to tell what could have made him commit suicide,” said Mr John Orindi, the university's director of corporate affairs.
At Kenyatta University, at least two cases of suicide have been documented this year. The first was reported last month in Bomet County, where a student killed himself as a result of relationship problems. The 26-year-old and his wife were said to be in a rocky relationship.
“He left behind a detailed account telling of the tribulations the couple had undergone since they first met at the university," said a report by Kongasis Chief Edward Barusei.
Another case was reported at the campus but the management was unwilling to providedetails, saying they did not wish to further traumatise the student's family.
In October, Philip Munene Ntoiti, a student at Meru University of Science and Technology, was found dead. The third-year student in the main campus was pursuing a Bachelor of Education degree. It is believed that he committed suicide.
The same month, a student at Laikipia University also committed suicide in Gilgil by hanging himself. However, he did not leave a note to indicate why he had decided to take his own life after he had travelled from his home in Nyahururu.
In September, a second-year student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) also committed suicide in Juja. The body of Titus Ndirangu Mwai was found hanging in his room near the university. The student, who was studying for an agribusiness economics degree, is said to have confessed to harbouring suicidal thoughts due to domestic problems with his relatives.
And in August, a Co-operative University student died at a police station in Nairobi after being arrested with several rolls of bhang. Tony Munguti, a fourth-year student, allegedly committed suicide inside Hardy Police Station in Karen a few hours after his arrest.
According to the police, Munguti had been arrested for creating a disturbance but was found in possession of 50 grammes of bhang, leading to his detention. The Bachelor of Commerce student is said to have killed himself using a sweater he was wearing.
A month earlier, another suicide was reported, again at JKUAT.
The student, who was in his final year, committed suicide at his elder sister’s house in Kasarani, Nairobi, a few days before he was set to sit for his end-of-semester examinations.
Edwin Mwaizi Igunza’s body was discovered by his sister, Ms Luize Minaywa Igunza, after she arrived from the family home in Kitale.
The student left a suicide note explaining that examination stress and fees problems were the reason for committing suicide. The 23-year-old was studying mining engineering.
At Chuka University, two students committed suicide in April. The first, Kelvin Mugendi, was a second-year computer science student.
He committed suicide after he found out that his girlfriend was unfaithful. The student left behind a suicide note addressed to his girlfriend.
In the same month, the decomposing body of the second student was found hanging from a mango tree near his hostel. Michael Gikonyo was also a second-year computer science student.
In February, Derrick Kiprop, 22, a student at Murang’a University College of Technology, committed suicide after a dispute with his lover.
He is said to have disagreed with his lover’s decision to end their three-month relationship over irreconcilable differences. The third-year student was pursuing a degree in software engineering.
Fellow students described him as a focused person and wondered why he had committed suicide over a love affair.
Last year, there were also several cases of students committing suicide.
In September, a University of Kabianga student took her own life over a suspected love triangle. The body of Hellen Nyambura Kinyanjui, 22, was discovered after police were notified of the incident by Mobebi chief Reuben Serem.
Hellen’s body was dangling from the ceiling of her rented residence at Chepnyogaa trading centre, a walking distance from the university.
In the same month, a fifth-year medical student at Kenyatta University committed suicide under unclear circumstances. Stella Karanja, who was on the verge of completing her course, took her own life within the Kenyatta University compound.
Still in the same month, a student at the University of Nairobi, who was pursuing a degree in engineering, set himself on fire at Equity Bank in Siaya County.
The 23-year-old, Sylvester Anyiko Majonjo, who was working at the bank as an intern, attempted suicide because he was being investigated after it was discovered that he had fraudulently transferred some money from a customer’s account to his.
In August of the same year, a 24-year-old fourth-year University of Nairobi student committed suicide in his parents' house in Dandora.
The student had asked his father to pay for a supplementary exam after he had failed some units, but his father was unable to raise the money.
The student's body was found hanging on a piece of clothing long after he had committed suicide.
In June 2017, another student committed suicide in Shauri Moyo, two weeks after he was sent home over tuition fee.
Fredrick Kinyanjui, 22, a second-year student at Multimedia University was found hanging in his family home.