National Police Spokesperson Charles Owino on Monday spoke on the alarming rates of police officers committing suicide in the nation which has been a subject of concern among all Kenyans.
Mr. Owino believes work-related stress is largely to blame for the situation where officers are at times given very hectic schedules, forcing them to work in strenuous workshifts running various operations.
According to Owino, at least 15 police officers have committed suicide in 2019 alone.
“The availability of firearms and exposure to psychologically adverse incidents are some of the reasons for increased cases of suicide. Again, the police culture does not allow for any physical or psychological weakness,” the police chief explained.
Some of the officers have also been suffering from alcoholism which has led them to their death.
For instance, a police officer attached to Tala Police Post committed suicide by hanging himself on a tree using his shirt in the outskirts of Tala town on Friday evening.
Two hours prior to his death, constable Andrew Kiplimo, had been undergoing treatment for depression and was also struggling with alcoholism. His wife and another colleague had tried to convince him to reduce his alcohol intake.
“It is more of a societal problem than a police issue. More Kenyans are committing suicide but those involving police are more pronounced,” he told People Daily.
He also cited strained love relationships and triangles as another contributor to the increasingly rampant incidents.
In May, AP Constable Jonah Kimani, attached to Umoja II camp, committed suicide inside his house. The officer shot himself using his official AK47 rifle which he had picked for patrol duties. He left a suicide note claiming he was frustrated by a female friend in a love gone sour relationship.
“Preliminary investigations point to suicide. There is a better way of solving issues and we request our officers to speak out,” Buruburu OCPD Adamson Bungei urged.
Volatile work environments and little pay have also been identified as a major cause of the suicides.
Earlier in the year, an AP officer shot himself dead in Garissa after he was transferred to a volatile area despite having served in the region for three years. He had been transferred to Ijara AP camp.
“Police work may force officers to work far away from home and in remote areas. This requires a lot of sacrifice, especially with the meager salaries,” Owino remarked.
The inability of senior officers in the force to identify disturbed juniors is also a major setback as some are not conversant with management, counseling, station and financial management, and public relations.
“Police commanders have been advised to closely monitor their juniors, and offer them necessary help when needed,” the police service spokesperson added.
Mr Owino went on to assure Kenyans that some commanders have been trained on emotional intelligence to help them manage their own emotions and those of their juniors.