The sports category has moved to a new website.

I booked my place at the morgue - John Mwangi, a suicide survivor

As one person is fighting hard to stay alive, another is trying to die by all means.

A morgue

As the world marks Suicide Prevention Day, John Mwangi, a suicide survivor shares with us why he so badly wanted to die and how he has since won the battle of suicidal thoughts.

“I had my 1st suicide attempt while in class four after I received a bad beating at school. Since my parents witnessed it, I felt that I was a loner and they didn’t care. My subsequent 2nd and 3rd attempts were after I moved to the private school where I felt intellectually inferior and a failure.

"My 4th suicide attempt was while I was in high school and there was a bit of violence which resulted from my dad taking alcohol.


"My 5th – 11th suicide attempts were driven by life frustrations, loss of finances, alcohol abuse, loss of my family, many hospital admissions, business frustrations which resulted from uninformed decisions hence losses and closure, work pressures due to indifferences with some former bosses and lack of self-esteem.” John opens up.

The fifth born in a family of six confesses trying different methods to end his life-hanging himself on a tree, drinking paraffin and Dettol, throwing himself into a well, overdosing on mental medications and even crushing his car into a moving bus along Thika road.

All the 11 times, John always woke up disappointed that he had not died. For some reason, be it luck or fate, someone always saved him before he could meet his maker.

“My 9th suicide attempt was my worst as it involved my innocent son. I wanted to use a knife to cut my throat off as well as that of my 3-year-old son and I had bought two specific knives. I was in the house with my son and our househelp was in as well.


"My wife had travelled for work-related matters to Nakuru. The househelp heard me making some calls whereby I indicated that I was going to kill my son as well as myself.

"I hadn’t locked the bedroom door so she stormed in, grabbed my son, and ran off from the house screaming. Neighbours intervened and prevented me from taking my life. I was taken to a local medical facility where I stayed for over 90 days.” He narrates.

On his 11th and final suicide attempt, John had planned to take alcohol and antidepressants before walking on the road to be run over by a fast-moving vehicle.

Determined to die, the banker entered a nearby morgue to reserve a space. He had lied to the mortician that he was looking for a family member but he was looking for an ideal space for his body to lie once he was gone.


John recalls, “When we got to cabinet 39, I remember it was empty and requested the attendant to reserve it for me. He was agreeable but tricked me and requested me to give him the contact of a family member since he would like to update them on the development.

"The mortician delayed my moves, and my relative, two nurses and an ambulance came. I was tricked into taking a sip of some water in a bottle, which apparently is what is commonly called the “stopper” and was later taken to a mental hospital.”

After his last suicide attempt, John realised that suicide was not a solution. He resolved to fight the monster head-on and now lives by the slogan, “I am a liver.”

He tells us that having a support system, seeking medical help, taking part in hobbies and identifying his triggers have helped him this far.


To anyone harbouring suicidal thoughts, the suicide survivor turned suicide ambassador says, “Nothing is unique. Know that what you are going through right now is something that people have gone through.

"No condition is too hard to deal with. We are here, I am here, suicide prevention ambassadors are, please do not take that rope, do not take that poison, do not intentionally cause that accident, and most importantly, do not accommodate the suicidal thoughts.”

Like John, Milka Gatoto Kamau is also a suicide survivor who has resolved to spread hope and help in the battle against suicide and mental health in general.

She tells us, “I have a mental health history of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) caused by childhood trauma.

"I endured emotional, mental and physical abuse by my father my entire childhood growing up until around the age of 20. I continued to live in survivor mode in my adulthood which caused me emotional pain that led to a suicide attempt in 2011.”


Milka found help through combined treatment methods such as meditation, ketamine therapy, intensive counselling, mind coaching and hypnotherapy.

The psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner believes that suicide is only a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

She urges, “Your condition is treatable. This is a season that is passing. Winter doesn’t last all year long, eventually, summer comes along. Your season of suffering is coming to an end. Suicide will only transfer your pain to the people left behind. There is HOPE! Don’t you dare give up!”


John and Milka agree that more awareness needs to be created and that we shouldn’t wait for September to speak about suicide.

They encourage more people to come out and speak about their struggles with mental health to fight stigma.

As a parting shot, Milka opines that “Suicide is not a crime but a sign of a mental health condition. Decriminalise suicide!”

Editor's Note: To speak to a mental health professional, dial *702*30# and follow the prompts, or download the Mindful Kenya app. To encourage free & open interaction with their specialists the organisation guarantees anonymity when you seek its services.


Unblock notifications in browser settings.

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: