Police in Nyeri are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of an Administration Police officer whose body was found inside his house Thursday.
Preliminary investigations indicate the officer, of the rank of a constable and in his late thirties shot himself on the head using his firearm.
At the time of the incident, he is said to have been living alone in a rented house behind the Central Region Kenya Revenue Authorities Headquarters.
A staffing officer attached to the Regional AP Commander’s office told KNA the deceased had recently been taken for rehabilitation due to a drinking problem and had shown remarkable improvement on coming back.
Upon resuming work, he was assigned light duties at the Regional Offices, and had never shown any sign of mental disturbance.
“Little is still known concerning the circumstances that led to this officer to take his life but investigations have commenced to enable us to get down to what really happened,” said the officer who requested to remain anonymous as he is not authorized to speak on behalf of the unit.
His sentiments have been corroborated by Nyeri OCPD Peter Kuria who says the deceased had left for his house yesterday after work as usual with no signs of any underlying problem.
However, his colleagues at his work place became concerned after he failed to report for duty prompting them to visit his house. Upon arrival at his house, they forced their way into the house but found the officer lying in a pool of blood with a gaping hole on the head where he is believed to have aimed his gun.
“The officer had left for home yesterday evening as usual but failed to report for work this morning prompting officers to go to his place of residence to inquire about his welfare. That is when it was discovered he was already dead. We are still carrying out investigations into this matter but what we have gathered is that the officer took his life by turning his rifle on himself,” reported Kuria.
The body of the deceased (whose identity is yet to be disclosed till the next of kin have been informed) has already been taken to the Nyeri Referral Hospital mortuary.
Cases of suicide among police officers have been on the rise in the recent past, raising concern about their mental health.
The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of jurists (ICJ Kenya) and members of the Police Reform Working Group have noted with concern an increase in the cases of police suicides, attacks by police officers on colleagues and family members due to mainly underlying mental issues.
A concern is that the spike in cases is associated with trauma that police officers face daily while discharging their duties.
In July 2020 a Presidential Taskforce on Mental Health recommended that mental illness be declared a National Emergency of epidemic proportions.
The taskforce also called for the recognition of mental health as a priority public health and socioeconomic agenda.
It also recommended the establishment of a mental health commission to advise, coordinate and continuously monitor the status of mental health, and report on the annual National Happiness Index.
Among its key findings is that Kenya has a high burden of mental illness due to ill health, psychosocial disability and premature mortality with huge gaps in access to care.
In Kenya, it is estimated that one in every 10 people suffer from a common mental disorder.
The number increases to one in every four people among patients attending routine outpatient services.
Depression and anxiety disorders are the leading mental illnesses diagnosed in Kenya, followed by substance use disorders