Friday 28th April, 2017
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Stemming the tide of suicide in Nigeria

Stemming the tide of suicide in Nigeria

Are Nigerians not enthusiastic about living their lives well? Millions of Nigerians love life and live it to the hilt. On week­ends, they laugh heartily and crack jokes with one another over sumptu­ous meals, and assortment of drinks and choice wine. And they look for­ward to attending weddings, corona­tions of people, and other festivities. So, not surprisingly, some years ago, an international body adjudged Ni­geria as a country with a great num­ber of happy people. Even till now, millions of Nigerians are happy, al­though they are suffering severe eco­nomic hardship.
So as people enter the twilight of their lives, they recall wistfully and nostalgically their youthful days. They wish they were still in the bloom of youth. But, death, which is an in­evitable end, awaits us patiently; it’s an inescapable reality. But nobody prays for death, not even deeply re­ligious people, who talk passionately and convincingly about better life in the hereafter. And it is a known fact that Millions of people with terminal illnesses, who are racked with pain, have continued to reject euthanasia.
So, in the recent past, the tales and news reports of people snuffing lives out of themselves were alien to us. We thought them to be apocryphal tales meant to entertain us. In fact, then, suicide was linked to races other than the Negroid race. Suicide, however, has existed in Africa for centuries. But it’s a rare occurrence. It is thought to be an abominable act. In Achebe’s Magnus opus, Things Fall Apart, the protagonist, Okonkwo, killed him­self. And he was not accorded funer­al ceremonies befitting his status in the society.
Till now, in the Southeast, when a man kills himself, he will be buried in the evil forest (Ajo ohia) without the performance of elaborate funeral rites for him. And a midget from Nri town in Anambra state will be hired to propitiate the gods and cleanse the desecrated land.
But, some years ago, Moslem ex­tremists introduced suicide bombing in the northeast of Nigeria. Conse­quently, radicalized Muslim youths, who are with distorted and patchy knowledge of the Koran, do strap bombs on their bodies and deto­nate them when they’re in the midst of People. They believe that their de­struction of themselves and infidels or other people will guarantee them places in heaven or paradise.
Today, it is not only members of the dreaded Boko Haram group that are killing themselves; other Nigeri­ans are jumping to their deaths from great heights or bridges. Some are ingesting poisonous substances in order to exit the world while oth­ers have embraced the ropes. In fact, in today’s Nigeria, the rate of people killing themselves has risen exponen­tially. What’s behind this ugly phe­nomenon that is decimating our pop­ulation and causing grief in families?
Is there a link between bad politi­cal leadership and the occurrence of suicide in Nigeria? President Buhari, no doubt, is a well-intentioned polit­ical leader. But, sadly, his economic team is peopled by technocrats and politicians, who do not know their onions as to economic manage­ment. As a result, our economic policies have failed. Consequent­ly, some Nigerians suffering se­vere economic hardship had taken their lives. As they couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel, they opted for committing suicide.
Again, people who are on the emotional rollercoaster owing to their failed marital relationships are not incapable of killing them­selves. It’s on record that some peo­ple killed themselves after commit­ting passion crime. Overwhelmed by emotions, bitterness, and indig­nation, their senses took leave of them, and they did the unthinka­ble, which is killing themselves.
More so, in today’s Nigeria, Mil­lions of people are with mood dis­orders, which can predispose them to take their lives. Bipolar disorder and depression are types of mood disorders. Sometimes people with these illnesses do not exhibit ab­normal behavior while carrying out their daily activities and living their lives.
Sufferers of bipolar disorder, how­ever, experience depression, during which they can become suicidal. And when they have mania, they’re unaware that their actions can cause them harm. People with depressive mania are susceptible to doing ha­ra-kiri, too.
Here in Nigeria, only people who are raving mad are taken to psychia­try hospitals and mental asylums for treatment. It takes our close mon­itoring of our relatives to discover that they have destructive and de­bilitating mood disorder. And it is a sad commentary on our politi­cal leadership that the number of psychiatrists in Nigeria is not pro­portionate to the number of peo­ple with mental illnesses in Nigeria.
Again, the government should revamp our ailing economy to re­duce the economic hardship being experienced by a vast majority of Nigerians. A hungry man is an an­gry man. And anger impairs our capabilities for rational thinking.
More so, religious clerics should counsel their members with failed marriages or relationships not to kill themselves. A failed marriage is not an enough reason for a man to end his life. Aren’t we endowed with im­measurable resilience and capabili­ties to make a fresh start after suffer­ing failures in many spheres of life?
Human life is sacrosanct. And we, as human beings, have no justifica­tion to do hara-kiri. God is the giver and taker of life. Suicide is the dev­il’s alternative.
•Okoye writes from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State.
Is there a link between bad political leadership and the occurrence of suicide in Nigeria?

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