Under Kenyan law, attempted suicide is a crime

If you unsuccessfully try to commit suicide you may be looking at a jail term.

In the Penal Code, any person who attempts to kill himself/herself is guilty of a misdemeanor. The penalty is up to two years in prison or a fine or both.

“The State looks at life of any human being as sacred. Your life therefore is not yours alone but shared with others in the society: for example, your brothers, sisters, children, spouse, parents and friends. The lives of these other people may depend on yours. You therefore don’t have the right to end it,” explains lawyer Donald Rabala.

Rising Cases of Suicide

There has been rising cased of suicide especially among teens and pre-teens; children who are at a school-going age.

This is not to underrate suicide among adults. Cases of work-related stress among police officers which lead to death by shooting of a boss or spouse, and then turning the gun on oneself, has been on the rise.

High costs of living and thin prospects of making it in this shrinking economy have been blamed by sections of Kenyans for rising cases of suicide.

A clinical psychologist Dr Lincoln Khasakhala explains that the law making suicide a crime should be reviewed. “That law needs to be reviewed. Such a person should be taken to an institution for mental health – not in jail”.

jail will worsen their condition. They will be more depressed, something that won’t improve their mental health prospects.

Recent shocking cases of suicide

The local Kenyan media has reported a couple of shocking incidences of suicide in the last few weeks. These are some of those sampled; more go unreported.

The most recent is that of a police officer who hanged himself using a leso in the bedroom of his house at Wang’ata village in Kirinyaga Central.

The second case is that of a young girl of 11 years, who stated that, ‘if I commit any sin, I will take away my life. I’m going to kill myself. Bye’, according to her note to her mother and younger sister.

A young girl committed suicide after a teacher scolded her for soiling herself; the girl could not afford a sanitary pad.

Attempted Suicide

Two students from different were recently admitted at Tenwek hospital for attempting suicide. One ingested a pesticide while the other was found dangling from the dormitory beam with a towel tied on his neck.

Suicide is more in males compared to females.  

“The most common cause of suicide [whether successful or not] is depression. Suicide is a symptom of depression. But there are other types of suicides, provoked by different scenarios in life.”

Among young people suicide is common. It is a cry for help; a way for them asking to be heard.

Schizophrenia, where patients hear voices telling them to end their lives; Mental health issues can also be blamed for rising cases of suicide.

Assisted suicide for terminally ill patients is not yet allowed in Kenya, but by not agreeing to any treatment, in the case of former Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore and Former Kibra MP Ken Okoth, that can be described as suicide, the better term is Euthanasia.

Though euthanasia is illegal in Kenya. It is legal in places like Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Canada, and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Montana, and California.


Guidance and counseling and mental health care should be taken seriously in Kenya to deal with issues of suicide.

In conclusion, first things first, let us repeal the penal code that criminalizes suicide.

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