60 Police Officers Commit Suicide Annually - Report

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  • About 60 police officers commit suicide with a majority crumbling under social, financial and workplace pressures, according to a report by mental health experts.

    According to senior officers who yesterday, February 3, spoke during a mental health awareness training workshop in Nairobi, most cases of suicide are attributed to unmet expectations due to unhealthy competition among colleagues as well as family issues.

    Some police officers commit suicide when they do not meet a certain obligation, according to Nyeri county police boss, Japheth Koome. A survey conducted to support this shows that 90 percent of police officers are struggling with alcoholism, 50 percent of whom require psychosocial support.

    Police at a pass-out parade in November 2019.
    Police at a pass-out parade in November 2019.

    About 61 percent of officers are regular alcohol consumers with reference to a joint survey done by United Nations Officer and National Police Service on drugs and crime in 2018. Dr. John Kibosia called for enhanced efforts to sensitize members of the service on the management of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

    Kibosia said that some officers result to taking alcohol as a way of dealing with work-related stress. 

    In the survey, nine out of ten officers who were interviewed turned out to be heavy users of alcohol while 42 percent are on the verge of abusing alcohol.

    The average age of officers who were found to be first-timers in alcohol abuse was found to be 22 years, which was four percent of the officers who met the diagnostic criteria. This was said to be a worrying discovery.

    Dr. Frank Njenga, who also spoke during the training said that officers who respond fast to distress calls are likely to suffer from PTSD. He added that the training was being conducted to help officers deal with the challenges they encounter every day in their line of duty.

    During the first phase of this training that was conducted in January, 18 counsellors were trained and send to the counties with enough knowledge on how to handle trauma. 42 officers were trained in yesterday’s training which was the second phase. 51 cases of officers in need of psychological support have already been referred to the hospital for treatment.

    It is believed that officers who battle alcoholism are twice the people who battle it in the general population. Also, the risk of increase of alcohol abuse tends to go up the longer one works in law enforcement.

    Meru level 5 hospital
    Inside Meru Level 5 hospital in Meru town, Meru County.