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University graduate commits suicide after Facebook friends encourage him to end his life

DECEASED: Owen Maina Macharia

A cry for help posted on Facebook by Owen Maina Macharia two weeks before he committed suicide in a hotel room was largely ignored and some of his online friends even urged him on.

Twenty seven year old Maina’s post went unflagged and neither did it attract the counseling he needed to stave off his suicidal thoughts. Instead, most of friends thought he was joking and urged him on.

“Solution to all problems is death. No man…no problems,” Maina posted on January 15.

The jibes thrown by his Facebook friends did not deter him. He made sure he replied to each. To one user who had written “siujiue basi tukuzike,” he replied by warning him not to attend his burial.

Only one friend wrote to inquire on what was actually going on. Maina replied that it was just a quote that made sense to him.

Consumed rat poison

Days later he made a trip to Mtwapa, Kilifi county, where he locked himself in a hotel room, consumed rat poison and hanged himself using his belt.

Minutes before the suicide, he had borrowed a phone from the hotel’s security guard which he used to phone his sister to bid his family farewell. Maina was two weeks short of his 28th birthday.

His first cousin Daniel Kabii told Nairobi News that the deceased, a marketing graduate, had asked for an off day from his employer on January 28. When he failed to report back to work three days later his boss contacted the family.

“When we received the reports of him missing, that is when we saw the post he had written on Facebook and we started searching for him. His house in Mwihoko (near Githurai off Thika Road) was locked and on breaking in we found his phone and packed clothes. The neighbours said he left and did not know where he was headed,” Kabii narrated.

Bank Transactions

The family proceeded to Maina’s bank where a relative had transferred Sh50,000 on January 25 as capital for a business investment.

“At the bank we found withdrawal transactions done in Mtwapa and a cousin was sent there on Friday to trace him.

“On Saturday early morning he (Maina) had called one of his sisters using what we later learnt was a security guard’s number. He told the sister goodbye, telling her to bid their parents goodbye on his behalf. The sister tried asking him to let her know what he was going through and where he was but he refused to disclose and disconnected the call,” Kabii narrated.

When the sister called back, a security guard said Maina had been staying at the hotel for three days and only borrowed the phone that early morning.

“The cousin who was in Mtwapa was given the name and location of the hotel and on getting there he found Maina had locked himself in the room. They broke into the room and found his body hanging from the shower with his belt and they found an empty sachet of rat poison in the room,” the cousin narrated.

Maina’s body has since been transported to the Kenyatta University Mortuary and his burial set for Friday.

Reach out

“I wish I had seen his post earlier and reached out, I only saw it after he had gone missing. It is sad that the people who saw it thought it was a joke and some even made insensitive comments. We need to reach out whenever we see someone posting such things because we never know what they are going through.

“As a family we did not know of any issue going on with Maina and at work colleagues say he seemed okay. I had spoken to him and planned a Saturday meet up and during our phone discussion the previous weekend he never revealed any struggles,” Kabii explained.

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