National Suicide Prevention Week

September 14, 2021

National Suicide Prevention Week was observed from the 6th to the 12th of September. At AIC Ngong school, the Choice Club members requested we talk about the issue of suicide. A few of the students said they have had friends or family members that took their lives when things got too hard for them to cope. They have also had school mates that contemplated suicide, and it was very scary for them. The issue of suicide is one that no parent wants to address. When the topic comes up, the parent usually tells the girl not to talk about such an issue. The schools also stay away from the topic because the teachers feel that they could be opening avenues of thought for students to attempt suicide.

The sad thing is that despite everyone desiring not to talk about suicide, it still happens, and cases go unreported. In our opinion, prevention is better than cure, and that is why there is need to address the issue and help the students before a suicide takes place. We all know that depression is one of the major causes of suicide. Looking out for students who are depressed and helping them manage their lives is one of the key ways of keeping suicidal thoughts at bay. Giving hope to those that have been affected by suicide and trying to prevent individuals from becoming victims are aims we hope to achieve with the students.

Some of the students who have had suicidal thoughts said they were mostly affected by situations at school they could not control. Most of the situations at school had to do with fellow students making life hard for them. Of the majority of students we talked to, the issues were school based and took place with other students, not with the teachers.

One girl said she reprimanded some students who she had caught misbehaving. Being a prefect, it is her duty to ensure that the school rules and regulations are followed. The students she reprimanded ganged up against her and incited other students in the class not to talk to her. Every time the prefect walked into class, the rest of the girls clicked their mouths and sneered at her. This significantly impacted the prefect emotionally, and she could not cope. She cried a lot that week; she did not want to report the misbehavior to the school authorities. She feared if she talked to the authorities, then the girls would be punished which would make the prefects’ life harder. So, she opted to keep quiet, though she was deeply hurt.

Therefore, we taught the girls about the need to watch their words. We carried out the toothpaste experiment as we had in the other school last week. Once certain words are spoken, they cannot be taken back. Words spoken carelessly can wound deeply and cause permanent scars. Like the toothpaste, once squeezed out of its tube, words spoken, cannot be put back. We cautioned the girls to ensure they are not the reason another girl jumps ‘off the cliff,’ so to speak.

We will continue to encourage the girls on this topic as the month goes by. These students know they can reach us anytime there is a need. We also encouraged the teachers to alert us, so we can help when they see a girl in need. We understand the teachers have a lot to handle and very many issues to manage while at school. They also have their own personal and home issues, so we reminded them we are here to help them when need arises.

The girls squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube.

The attempt to put the toothpaste back.

The girls realize the lesson in the experiment.

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