Sunday, March 22, 2020

35-year-old woman commits suicide after suspecting she had caught coronavirus

A 35-year-old woman from Lolkunono Village in Maralal Ward in Samburu West Sub-County, Kenya on Friday, March 20, committed suicide after she was stigmatised by neighbours following suspicions that she had contracted coronavirus.

Sarah Lengulisiai fatally jumped into Ngare Narok River at 4am, and her body was discovered at 11am Friday.

Police say Lengulisiai had — earlier this week — complained that she and her children were coughing persistently, sneezing and had tonsillitis.

The mother-and-her-children visited Sirata Oirobi Dispensary on Thursday daytime, where they were given cough medicines and asked to return to the health centre should their conditions fail to improve.

Police say the patients’ neighbours occasionally tormented them, alleging that they (woman and her children) had caught the dreaded coronavirus.

At 4am, when the village was dead asleep, Lengulisiai, a mother of four daughters, woke up and went straight to Ngare Narok River, where she committed suicide by drowning, area elder Peter Lempirikan told K24 Digital.

“At 11am, one of the residents reported to us that she had seen the woman’s body in the river. I informed a ranger of the conservancy, who alerted police. The law enforcement officers arrived and took the deceased to Maralal County Referral Hospital morgue,” said Lempirikan.

The village elder has described Lengulisiai as a “very social and responsible woman, who went about her domestic work diligently”.

“I thought she was extremely emotionally-strong. I don’t know what could have come over her to trigger the suicide,” said Lempirikan.

Samburu County Health minister, Stephen Lekupe, confirmed that Lengulisiai and her children had been treated for normal cough at the Sirata Oirobi Dispensary in Maralal, Samburu West Sub-County.

“We have established that neighbours stigmatised the woman and her children over claims that they had COVID-19,” Lekupe told K24 Digital.

The Health CEC said the symptoms exhibited by the deceased and her children — as per the records at Sirata Oirobi Dispensary — were not those of COVID-19, given their body temperatures were normal.

Sarah Lengulisiai — who was married as a second wife in Samburu — leaves behind her husband and four daughters. Her eldest child sat her KCSE exam last year, and the youngest is 5 years old.