Tuesday Column By VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
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“Church’s gospel artiste commits suicide
“Oko Polytechnic student commits suicide
“40 year-old teacher commits suicide
“How 300 level Uniben student committed suicide
“Another final year student of UNN commits suicide”
Above are samples of reported suicide incidents in Nigeria in recent times. Here are a few more examples. It was reported on April 6 that a Mathematics lecturer at the University of Ibadan committed suicide after “unfulfilled dreams of completing his PhD programme”. On the 19th of same month a 100 level student of Kogi State University, Anyagba killed herself after having been reportedly jilted by her boyfriend. Much earlier a youth in Jos took his own life for reportedly failing the Jamb examination, just as another youth who lives on the outskirts of Lagos had also committed suicide due to his inability to gain admission to a university after serially failing to make the Jamb cut-off mark. In the latter case the person concerned even live streamed it on his Face book page!
From the cited representative samples, suicide cases appear to be more prevalent among youths, more prevalent in the south and appears to be rare In the far north ( although there is one reported case in Kano – the 40 year-old teacher whose name was given as Femi Malami). The preferred mode of the perpetrators is through snipping an insecticide chemical called ‘sniper’ although there are also isolated cases of hanging by rope which may be considered as the old fashioned way. This has prompted the National Agency for Food, Drugs administration and control (NAFDAC) to ban the sale of this product in smaller packages and in supermarkets. The small-sized package is sold for between N200/N300 and can be obtained from neighbourhood shops. Apparently, NAFDAC hopes that by now decreeing that ‘sniper’ be sold only in large containers, it would no longer be easily accessible to every Dick and Harry. A little sip of this insecticide is enough to cause death.
And the causes of recent suicide incidents are, inability to scale through academic examinations, being jilted by lovers and perceived stigma. For instance the gospel artiste that performs in a church is said to have taken his own life because nude pictures of himself reportedly went viral days before his planned wedding, leading to his fiancée allegedly calling off the proposed marriage. The 300 level University of Benin student is said to have eventually committed suicide (after failed attempts) because she had been raped earlier while just in her first year in the institution. Before now (2018/2019) there had been the reported case of a medical doctor who committed suicide by plunging into the Lagos Lagoon while a middle-aged woman trader who attempted same was rescued. She confessed that she wanted to kill herself because she owed people huge sums of money. All of the reasons adduced for committing suicide can be classed under one broad headline, viz, social problems.
According to a research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) published on July 29, 2018 Nigeria is ranked as the fifth suicide prone country in the world with a ratio of 15,000 suicides per 100,000. South Korea is listed as the most suicide prone, followed by Russia, India, Japan and then Nigeria. Other countries that make up the top ten are, in descending order, United States, France, South Africa, Australia and Canada. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is ranked 17th. In 2015 before suicide deaths came to the front burner, a survey by NOIPolls identified the following as causes of death in Nigeria: natural death 26 per cent; sickness 26 per cent; poverty (including malnutrition) 31 per cent; motor accidents 16 per cent. Clearly suicide incidents are now assuming a new dimension in our country and becoming a fad of sort for people who presumably feel they are ‘fed up with life”. All of us, not least government should be concerned. What are its underlying cause/causes?
All aforementioned social problems experienced by those that committed suicide lead to depression. Depression is an inexplicable feeling of sadness. I believe each of us has felt some form of depression; whether mild or acute, brought about by some unfulfilled wishes, regret, anxiety, etc. Though depression is more of an emotional problem, it is classed by experts as mental illness (we Africans do not want to hear that phrase) treated by them chiefly by drugs and therapy. A report just turned in by the United Nations’ special rapporteur on health, Dr. Dainius Puras identifies austerity, inequality, discrimination and job insecurity as exacerbating mental illness. Dr. Puras according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper recommends social justice rather than medications as key to solving the problem. But how come that our grandparents lived a more serene life, devoid largely of modern-day ‘sicknesses’? Why these later-day aberrations of suicides, abuse of psychotropic drugs and so on? One can say that life here is more challenging, more stressful than ever before in view of population explosion, pollution, climate change and so more frustrating today. The difference as I see it though is that people of olden days were more contented with what they had, what life offered than we their so-called sophisticated heirs are.
This practice of today’s youths committing suicide at the slightest disappointment is to say the least, depressing. They do more damage to their souls thereby. For, having wilfully cut short their life here on earth before the time appointed by the Creator, their souls would, upon passing on to the beyond, have to repeatedly experience sufferings of the pains associated with releasing the soul from the discarded physical body upon death. This is an ethereal, real happening. It can be likened to a fruit falling off a tree before it has ripened. This will continue until that time is reached when the person would have been called away from the earth by God through natural death. He/she can only begin his/her journey in the beyond after that. Life here is relatively short. No matter the challenges, stress and frustrations of daily living, we should trust in God’s wisdom, reverentially looking up to Him with a pure heart for a breather and relief.