Covid-19 patient commits suicide in Kenya over stigma
London, July 26, 2020 (AltAfrica)-A 50-year-old man committed suicide at a private hospital in Nakuru after he was suspected to have contracted coronavirus.
A popular Kenyan news website, The Standard reports that the deceased, a driver from Rongai Sub County travelled from Nairobi after the lockdown was lifted on July 6.
Public Health chief officer Samuel King’ori said on arrival, he developed Covid-19 symptoms that included shortage of breath, coughing, high body temperature and general body weakness.
“The deceased was among individuals who had been locked down in Nairobi, and immediately after the travel was lifted, he joined his family in Nakuru,” said King’ori.
He went to seek treatment at The War Memorial Hospital where he was admitted. At the facility, he was placed in isolation and had swabs taken for Covid-19 tests.
However, on the morning of July 24, he was found dangling on a window grill, having used curtains to hand himself, as the facility waited for results.
His results for the Covid-19 came out and he had tested positive. “Doctors went to check on the driver, how he was responding to treatment, but were shocked to find him hanging on the window,” King’ori said. The body is at the facility morgue as plans commence to bury him under Covid-19 regulations.
The incident brought services at the facility to a standstill as officers from the public health department fumigated the ward and the entire hospital.
According to the health official, the deceased might have committed suicide due to stigma that comes with the pandemic, where those found positive are discriminated against.
“Though we are yet to investigate what made him commit suicide, we suspect he was depressed after suspecting he was ailing from Covid-19,” he said.
The death brings to total fatalities reported in Nakuru to eight – seven men and a woman. The county has at least 234 accumulated Covid-19 cases, out of more than 6,000 samples tested.
Covid-19 positive patients are managed at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, Langalanga Health Centre and Naivasha hospital. Plans are underway to establish an isolation ward at Bondeni Maternity and the upcoming Gilgil Maternity wing, as current centres are overwhelmed.
“We are working closely with community health volunteers to help in managing patients under home based care. This is because we cannot hold all patients in hospitals,” said King’ori.
Consultant psychiatrist Lukoye Atwoli, linked stigma attributed to Covid-19 to lack of factual and adequate information about the disease at the grassroots.
Prof. Atwoli said it is unfortunate that as a country, the disease is being handled like it is a death sentence. “Stigma comes about because we believe once you get it, you will die. This is not true because anyone is a suspect and it can be managed to have the sick recover,” he said in a interview.