I read with sadness the news about the Doctor who drove or was driven to Third Mainland Bridge, asked his driver to stop and suddenly jumped into the river, thereby killing himself. The same yesterday, the news was all over also of a 500 level LAUTECH student who committed suicide. His roommates went to read overnight and returned in the wee hours of the morning to see his dangling body. One said they had invited him to go along with them to read but he declined.
News like these aren’t so new anymore. But they are gradually revealing the reality of our society. Depression and suicidal thoughts are now conditions Nigerians are battling with. It is not a sickness for the whites, oyinbo or developed world. Let’s face it, we need to address depression and problems people are facing just like we do so for cancer, diabetes and all that.
I keep thinking, why is there a rise in suicide rates in Nigeria. A perspective could be that we are in an information age where with the aid of the internet whatever happens in the remotest corner of Nigeria is broadcast all over. Despite this, I really think the rate is on the high side.
Another cause could be financial issues. This harsh economic condition, unemployment, underemployment, high inflation rate, hike in exchange rate etc can indeed cause people to despair. To add the crash of MMM and all those ponzi schemes to that mix…gbam, you have a good catalyst for entertaining suicidal thoughts. This is why we need to be wise, prudent and make financial decisions very carefully. If we can cut our expenses to the barest minimum, please let’s do so. It is also a time to invest and do business. Salaries aren’t even enough. In fact, many workers have not been paid for months, sometimes 8 months! How do such people survive? This is a time to throw all reps away and do any honest work or business that can help you keep going. Forget all the grammar and certificates, the tushness and all that. Like they say in yoruba, ‘inu igbe lowo wa‘ (money lies inside dirt). Pls my dear youth, no work or business is too low or demeaning for you. There is dignity in labour. So far it is a honest one, I believe God will bless your efforts. Let’s think outside the box. Nigeria is a very good place for business, just look around you for a need and meet the need. Our population alone is a great factor for successful businesses.
One of the posts about the doctor said he was actually coming from a church service before driving to that bridge. The first thought that came to my mind is that the church is supposed to be a place for healing people. Minus the message and all that, how many people said hello to him, asked about his welfare etc. Our religious houses need to be more than a place where we just come to pray and pray and preach and preach and collect offerings and all kinds of donations. There needs to be fellowship, caring and loving for each and every member. How many people say hello to the person sitting next to them in church? Do you even know that person’s name, place of work, area where he or she lives etc? Don’t get deceived by the nice cars, flamboyant dresses, perfect makeup and strides. People are hurting. I know you think they should also talk to you but they are probably also waiting for you to make the first move. Please let us care.
This is not the first time we are reading about a student committing suicide. Interestingly such students have roommates, flatmates etc who never have an idea of the person’s pain, depression or suicidal tendencies. We should stop all the ‘beefs’ with our colleagues and roommates over stupid and vain things. It’s time to we started showing some love to them.
We are in an age where social media has made it so easy and convenient to connect with others including school mates and colleagues from the past. In fact, your friends lists or followers could be full of people you have not met. Despite having thousands of followers or facebook friends, do we actually have friends in the real sense of the word? Most discussions online is usually superficial…everyone puts his or her best foot forward even though we all have issues we are dealing with. That tells me something, we need face to face interaction with people. Friends we can visit and talk to in real life and time. People that can check on us from time to time. It’s usually easier to know what is really happening with someone that way. Let’s stop spending so much time socialising on social media but spend time gisting with that your neighbour, colleague and friend. Man is created as a social being and we need that touch of human interaction. Don’t spend all your time on snapchat, instagram, facebook, youtube, whatsapp etc. Sometimes a friend that you can call on with a physical presence is worth more to you than a million on social media.
Assuming a person whoops up the courage to talk to you about his problems, challenges and thoughts, how do you react? Nigerians are used to ‘aro’ (very harsh jokes). Some jokes and responses can aggravate the situation. Recently I read on nairaland about a guy who posted on his Facebook page that he is tired of life and wanted to commit suicide. Unbelievably one of his Facebook friends was cracking jokes that he should come and collect rope. He went further to say the guy should not die in vain but allow them use his body for money rituals, WHAT! You too cannot imagine. When people share their issues with us, we are supposed to encourage them and help where we can. Not make things worse. Let’s not dismiss it and say ‘man up’ or ‘grow up’ or merely ‘it is well’. Don’t laugh at them or begin to use them as examples or preach. No matter how innocent your comments or actions were, you have to consider that you are dealing with people’s lives and emotions.
I am not trying to lay the blame on others for the suicide of another. Rather this is a call for us to pay more attention to each other. Show some love and care today. I know you might think that people don’t also care about you but keep sowing the seed. Let’s shift the focus from ourselves and immediate family for sometime. I know you are super duper busy, yet please create time to relate with others as well.