• Wednesday, December 06, 2023
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The anatomy of suicide!

Economic crunch, depression driving suicide surge among Nigerian youths

Saturday, 10/9/22 was the global suicide prevention day, as it has been over the years. To mark that day, Dr Walter Mulombo, WHO Representative in Nigeria, revealed that at least 700,000 suicides were recorded annually (about once every 40 seconds).

This is an improvement on the earlier record in which 79 percent of cases were from the less-developed countries, but the high income countries had the highest rate of 11.5 per 100,000. This means that while the LDCs commit more suicide in absolute numbers, it is proportionally higher in the developed countries; an indication that the ‘rich also cry.’

On 23/5/19, I observed the increasing rate at which people kill others and commit suicide over apparently trivial matters (Ik Muo; Other Matters: A death-friendly generation, BusinesDay, 23/5/19).


The only thing that has happened in the suicide ecosystem is that methods have become ‘multivariate’ and that it has become more convenient for people to kill themselves

That same 2019, as led by the Spirit, I discussed the alarming rate of teenage suicides with our exemplary accessible VC, Prof GO Olatunde and he empowered the Students Affairs Department to run a university-wide, week-long programme (30/7/19 – 5/8/19) themed ‘Suicide is not an option.’ To this moment, some of my colleagues call me ‘Suicide is NOT an Option’!

My paper was titled ‘You are not alone and… It shall come to pass.’ A section of it was titled ‘The Snipper-Friendly Generation,’ because Snipper, bottled in harmless looking white container, has left its primary purpose and transmuted into a popular, rapid-result instrument of self-annihilation.

Since then (for the past 3 years), I have been randomly tracking cases of suicides across the globe, though mostly in Nigeria, and I want to share my findings. I want to state upfront that I have no medical background and that apart from Introduction to Psychology and Social Psychology, which we were taught by Dr Ogionwo at UI, in 1977, I do not have any psychological background. I am just a behavioural scientist and self-appointed ‘media activist,’ ‘putting mouth’ into ‘this and that,’ subject to the limitations of ‘time, space, energy, and NEPA.

Read also: Dealing with maternal mental health in Nigeria

This is also not a scientific study, with hypotheses, regression and correlation analyses, contributions to knowledge and other such esoteric terms. I just recorded some cases of suicide over the years, using my usual FPA methodology (FPA? Front Page Analyses). It is also obvious that suicide did not start today; that it is not a class affair and that it is also not a function of age.

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth, in which some of us are mourning more than the bereaved, the story is trending of Attah Ameh Oboni, the Igala King who committed suicide rather that allow the queen to humiliate him. It all started when he was forced to remove his cap to greet the queen at a function, subsequent upon which a swarm of bees invaded the venue and everybody, including the queen ran helter-skelter in a disorderly manner.

And just the other day, (2/9/22), Gustavo Arnal, the Chief Finance Officer of ‘Day, Bed and Beyond’ committed suicide over the failing fortunes of the firm and may be the probability of investigation for culpability. The firm had just announced that it would close 150 outlets and sack 20 percent of its workforce.

The paper I referred to earlier started with a 10-year-old boy who was urged on by a computer game and a 9-year-old migrant-Canadian who committed suicide due to bullying. In my ‘book or records,’ there is also one 85-year-old woman who took her life.

The only thing that has happened in the suicide ecosystem is that methods have become ‘multivariate’ and that it has become more convenient for people to kill themselves. In 2016, Red Roof Inn opened cheap suicide suites ($59/night) in all its outlets for clients who want it pleasurably and conveniently so as to “flawlessly complement the suicide experience in every way imaginable.”

Has the so-called developed world not gone mad? I don’t know how Red-Roof will operate such suites in Nigeria where attempted suicide is an offence! Another development is that the pervasive social media, which has ruined more than it has saved, has democratised the information about the suicide related matters.

As at 2019, Nigeria had the highest suicide rate in Africa and 6th in the world while the Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health reported that Nigerian students had one of the highest rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts globally in the same 2019.

On 11/9/22, Professor Taiwo Obindo, president, Association of Psychiatrists, revealed that 60 million Nigerians are suffering from mental illness but that only 10 percent of them are able to access care. This is alarming but we may not worry too much because what constitutes mental illness may be like what constitutes sexual harassment in the US.

Maybe, greeting everybody everywhere may be classified as a sign of mental disequilibrium! It was also revealed earlier that for this large horde of mentally challenged compatriots, there are only 250 psychiatrists and that was before the recent deluge in the rate of brain drain.

In the paper I presented in 2019, I x-rayed 10 suicide cases in Nigeria, 9 of whom were students. Four of them were due to failed romance, 5 was due to project/result issues while one was due to depression. Next week, I will share the results of my investigations. But before then, always remember that Suicide is NOT an Option.