Following the death of four teachers in Nyamira county within just one month through suicide, questions are rising about the level of depression among teachers and what could be fueling this.
What’s that frustrating teachers so much that pushes them to act this lowly?
Is it TSC policies, is it financial burdens, could it be family and relationship matters or maybe too much pressures from societies around them.
According to Kuppet and Knut officials the blame lies squarely with TSC salaries which have stagnated despite rising cost of living including housing.
Among the four teachers that took their life is Victor, a national school teacher, who was found dead in his bedroom.
His father, Peter Mong’are told the media that although he tried to conceal his struggles, he could tell that his son was depressed, possibly by finances.
“He never showed any early signs. At the end of this month, he spoke very little about it, but taking one look at him, I knew he had financial struggles,” his father disclosed.
Not far from Mongare’s home, the family of Bernard Momanyi, a primary school teacher is mourning his death.
According to his wife, Leonora Hamadi, she found the deceased hanging from a tree, according to her he also showed no signs whatsoever.
“I found the rope in the kitchen and asked him what it was for. He told me not to worry since we would use it to tie clothes. When I left the house I found him hanging by the tree,” Hamadi stated.
County Commander, James Mutigo, confirmed that the four took their lives in the last 30 days, with the latest incident occurring this week on Monday morning.
Mutigo noted that his officers were working with officials from TSC and the county to establish the likely cause of the spike in suicide cases witnessed in the area
Borabu Knut Secretary-General Charles Obure blamed the spike in suicide cases on the stagnant teacher’s wages which have not been adjusted in response to the skyrocketing cost of living, consequently pushing them to the edge.
“The last time the teacher’s house allowance was reviewed was in 1996, which means the amount they are given does not match what they pay for rent. We are requesting our employer to review this issue,” he stated.
Obure’s remarks rhyme with Kuppets officials who two years ago blamed TSC for failing to provide conducive working environment after 10 teachers in Taita Taveta county died in less than two months.
Kuppet’s executive secretary in the county Shedrack Mutungi said teachers are suffering from stress and depression due to the non-conducive working environment.
He said they are overwhelmed, further appealing to the TSC to hire more tutors in the region to reduce the workload.
“Our employer is stressing teachers. They expect us to meet the target every term, not considering that we need more teachers to meet the demand,” Mutungi said.
His colleague, Lenox Mshila, who was then Taita Taveta Knut secretary echoed Mutungi sentiments, noting that cases of deaths resulting from lifestyle diseases were on the increase.
“There is a sad case of a teacher who was forcefully transferred from the village to a school in Voi town. He later committed suicide months later because he could not mantain his life in town,” Mshila said.
However Knut Mwingi branch executive secretary Michael Mbutu has called upon teachers to open up when faced by stress. He was reacting following the escalating number of suicide cases in the country.
Speaking after a reported case of Wikithuki primary school where a head teacher, Jacob Nguli, committed suicide in his Ithumbi home, Mbutu said it was sad to lose a teacher due to depression.
The leader urged teachers to be vigilant and to report cases of depression among colleagues adding that the only way to ensure lives are saved is if the affected teachers get guidance and counseling.
The late Nguli hanged himself on his bedroom using a sisal rope and left a suicide note indicating that his wife was frustrating him and that he could no longer take it.
The deceased had served for over ten years working hard to become a senior teacher. He was good at sports and nurtured many youth.
‘The union will work together with TSC to ensure teachers are guided and counseled accordingly.’ Mbutu said.
Two years ago AON Minet which a teachers health insurance provider, reported a significant number of teachers who reported in their facilities countrywide over mental health issues.
In the month of April 2020 alone, 400 teachers sought the services across different AON Minet health facilities in the country.
The number was highest in Bungoma County where in one month alone, 28 teachers complained of stress.
In Nairobi 24 teachers said they were depressed while 23 and 20 similar cases were recorded in Bomet and Machakos respectively.
Counties of Uasin Gishu,West Pokot, Mandera and Marsabit recorded only one case each.
Majority of the patients were male with 54% while 29% were female; 17% were under the unknown category.
The report further showed that the main nature of the mental health concern was stress and anxiety.