There is urgent need to stem the tide of suicides among teachers

Teacher
Teachers are committing suicide in their numbers unlike before.

There seem to be few studies in Kenya that have delved into risk factors for suicidal behaviour among Kenyan employees. Most of the available studies are general surveys which are majorly quantitative in nature. They therefore lack critical explanations on key risk factors behind increased suicide taking toll on Kenyans and for this matter, Kenyan teachers.

Many will bear witness that the rate at which the country is losing teachers is quite appalling, the most recent being the one of a JSS teacher who after penning a note to all who mattered to him, went ahead and committed suicide at what was, to his lover’s speculative theory, a result of frustrations over a relationship that was going south.

In many instances, reported incidents of suicide among teachers in Kenya centre around stress, depression, frustrations and sometimes unknown causes, especially when no symptoms or reason (suicide note). In the recent past (4-5 years), it was breaking news to hear a teacher taking their life. But here we are, with regular and disturbing news of suicide among the most revered workforce in the society.

To address this and many other challenges affecting its employees, TSC rolled out a comprehensive health cover (Aon Minet) and went further to institute teacher induction, mentorship and coaching programmes. Also, there is a teacher wellness department at the commission’s ranks. All these are aimed at ensuring the teachers dispense their duties with utmost ease.

Yet tough economic times Kenyans are going through coupled with workplace pressure are other reasons given on comment sections of our online platforms when a suicide case involving a teacher pops up. Resultant fear from an offence committed will also feature as a contributing factor.

In a bid to mitigate the increasing suicide, it is time that a teacher wellness office is created in all the sub-county TSC offices. This will not only energize the TIMEC programme in our schools but also identify and understand factors that can drive our teachers into resorting to suicide.

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Joseph Kiptoo is an educationist based in Sirwa, Nandi East.

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