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Suicide prevention in Nigeria: Offering hope through action

Suicide is a serious thing. And if you know anyone who is suicidal, you need to get them help. No one should be in pain. Everyone should love themselves. – Gerard Way, an American songwriter, singer, and comic book writer.

Life, as they say, is not balanced, especially when it comes with all its sides. Shades of life shape us into what we become and many are not aware of this. There are stories of humble beginnings that have resulted in exalted positions for so many reasons of transformation. If wishes were horses, beggars would love to ride for free. Events of misfortunes for some, occurrences of breakthrough for others. It is not always permanent when it seems rosy because the table might change and it will not stop rotating. Life is full of adventure for those who desire to explore. You will be brief with your adventures when you lose interest in those stones thrown at you when life looks bleak.

Depression is a feeling that comes from a mind that is dejected. A state of despondency with abuse that hope is not forthcoming. It is a result of several trials without headway in a particular task and life expectations. A feeling that nothing is working in his hands or she is not getting through from failures to negligence. When it is prolonged than necessary, suicide is not far from such a mind. The next thought in the mind of a despondent fellow is taking his or her life against the wish of others. This is assumed to be the remedy to dejection and that after this; life will remain worthless without them. Hardship is traced to one of the factors that could draw a man next to committing suicide. Broken relationships with loved ones may also be the next element of a suicide mission- a feeling that nothing more is worth living for.

Prior to suicide, there are signs that are mostly ignored by neighbours and loved ones. Do we have to call the families of these victims’ loved ones? When you place someone highly esteemed in your hearts, you are sensitive to strange things when they appear as characters. The signs, in most cases, are always glaring to those who want to see them. The last stage of depression is withdrawal, as studies have shown. Victims of depression begin to isolate or withdraw from gatherings or they avoid eye contact just because something is running through their minds. Their thoughts become weird for expression and they see death as an option to “end” their frustration. While this is going on, the support system may collapse and this means that the attempt to commit suicide increases till it is executed.

Read Also: Suicide and the Nigerian press – A review of the book ‘The Morning After’

It is most advisable to always watch out for some of these signs in everyone around us to avoid stories that touch. The world is aware of this predicament and has attached a day to observe the mental health and reasons for suicide. 10th of September commemorates “world’s suicide prevention day”, this year’s theme is “creating hope through action.” With series of programmes lined up to intensify the need for preventing suicide globally, it has become imperative to nip in the bud all shades claiming one’s life. All stakeholders: religious organisations, educators, co-workers, family members, community members, health care professionals, and political officials should find time to address the prevalence of this uncivilised act.

All stakeholders: religious organisations, educators, co-workers, family members, community members, health care professionals, and political officials should find time to address the prevalence of this uncivilised act.

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) stated and I quote “In 2019, 97,399 people died by suicide in the region of the Americas and it is estimated that twenty times that number may have made suicide attempts.” It is revealed in recent researches that most suicide cases are among youths between the ages of 15 to 29. Reasons for this age bracket span from mishandling of drugs to substance use disorders, job loss to financial loss, and trauma or abuse. I had a similar life experience with a youth who claims to be neglected by his loved ones and resulted in drinking insecticides to end his life which is still a gruesome act that can be better imagined. Prior to his death, he had so many claims of negligence and preference for his siblings above him by his parents. Out of desperation, he found insecticides handy, among other options he had thought of, so he drank it and a few minutes after, death came knocking and there was nobody to help at that critical stage.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, someone takes their own life every forty seconds, this sums up to about 800,000 persons worldwide in a year. Underdeveloped and developing countries are major sources of these figures as diagnosis of this mental challenge is not forthcoming at its early manifestation. The event is not just sudden; it comes with a gradual appearance of hopelessness and submission to fate. At least, everyone knows or comes across someone who knows a person that has taken his own life himself. The awareness should be stronger in publicity and commitment to service for humanity should be more than lip service.

Silence and self-denial remain the strong views of suicide attempts by many. International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) reported that Nigeria has the highest suicide rate in Africa and sixth globally. Some reports have it that the statistics in Nigeria are under-reported which may not present the menace in a clear term for all to imagine the severity. In 2016, about 17,710 cases of suicide were reported, were 8,410 of this figure were females, bringing the percentage ratio of male to female suicide cases to 53:47 in 2016. Ethiopia and South Africa come behind this index respectively. From the figures above, the men are getting this situation more worrisome and the system is not helping either. It is tragic to commit suicide as it affects family friends and colleagues.

Death terminates ambitions; it really stings the hope of tomorrow and renders the entire relatives into perpetual loss, when it is untimely. It is advisable to keep close touch with loved ones and show unconditional affection towards them. Let us act on what we profess: show love, do not wait for obsequies before you act. Like the popular saying, problems will not stop existing, not in your generation; we manage problems. All sources of depression: joblessness, financial difficulty, broken relationships, and incessant failures, shouldn’t dictate livelihood to the point of claiming dignity for life. It may appear irredeemable but it is actually redeemable.

Everyone that had attempted suicide in the past without success shouldn’t be neglected. It is better to give a listening ear than to be judgemental when listening to victims of suicide. As advised by WHO, pesticides regulation should take the front burner, and reduced access to means of suicide also be considered. Advocacy for mental health checks ought to be intensified among the vulnerable age brackets with a sustaining policy in the direction of giving hope to the hopeless.

Fashakin, a seasoned educator writes in via olusegunfashakin@gmail.com

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