A tree in Nyeri has gained grim attention as the spot where 26 people have chosen to commit suicide.
The latest was a 30 year-old man whose body was found on Wednesday dangling from the tree, known as Muthigi in Gikuyu.
The tree is in Kiganjo Forest, near Chaka in Nyeri County, a few metres from the Nyeri –Nanyuki road.
The deceased, identified by police as David Muriuki, is from Kirinyaga County. He hanged himself using an old bed sheet that had been folded neatly and tied in two knots.
According to locals, the latest incident has raised the number of bodies found hanging on the tree to 26 over the last seven years.
FROM DIFFERENT PLACES
“Since 2010 I have personally seen at least 26 bodies of people who killed themselves here. People come from different places to end their lives here. There is another tree a few metres from here where others hanged themselves,” said Ms Francisca Kirigo, a local.
Most locals suspect the tree is a preferred suicide location because of its proximity to the road. Most bodies are usually discovered by herders who alert police.
Police records indicate that most people who hang themselves on the tree come from other regions.
Psychologists view the phenomenon of people choosing one specific spot to hang themselves as a complicated matter.
According to psychologist Mercy Wambui, the choice of method or place for one to commit suicide is mainly determined by character or personality.
“Mostly people’s choice of where or how they commit suicide is based on their personality. For instance narcissists will opt for a place and method that will be noticed by many, like jumping off a building. Introverts however will opt for a quieter and secretive way and spot,” said Ms Wambui.
She says that for the case of the Kiganjo Forest, it could be that the victims are drawn by its infamous reputation.
“Maybe someone heard that people go to hang themselves there and decides to also go there. There is really no definite psychological explanation to why they chose that tree,” she added.
Over the past years some religious leaders who believe that the tree is haunted have held prayers to cleanse it. Others even suggested that the tree be cut but were barred by authorities and told that suicidal people would simply chose a different tree to hang themselves.