The rate of suicide in our present society

July 10, 2020
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THERE have been several reported cases of suicide but the trend has dramatically increased in the last few years. More teenagers are taking their lives, especially by poisoning themselves. The question here is why? Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death. It is a situation in which an individual decides to end his /her own life. It is perceived by some people as a means through which they can escape from pain and suffering. It is no longer news that this act has received widespread condemnation even from our religious leaders and some of them have dubbed this act to be ‘ sacrilegious’ and totally against the commandments of God. Researchers and intellectuals have tried to proffer explanations as to why suicide has become the order of the day, especially among the youths. Below are some of the factors that can account for the persistence. Of this act in our society today. There are several factors responsible for suicide in our society today. Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress such as from financial difficulties, troubles with relationships or bullying, or also being neglected by the society or loved ones.

Prior  to our contemporary society, Nigerians were said to have a kind of strange resistance to committing suicide or having suicidal thoughts: they had a  way of guarding their lives no matter what hardship or what circumstance it is that they encountered.  The question here is, what happened to the bond and the spirit of brotherhood that existed among Nigerians? Has the blood which runs, pumping hope and determination in the body system, dried up? The preponderance of cases of suicide indicates that a once abominable act is being fancied among Nigerian youths. Otherwise, how could four Nigerians kill themselves in a space of four weeks over issues the older generation weathered through without expressing discomfort? Faced with the ugly development, the question on the lips of concerned stakeholders is: What has gone wrong with Nigeria’s millennials?

It is often wondered why this activity persists despite the awareness of its dark sides. It is pertinent to also state the fact that suicide is not gender-based neither is it age-based; men, women, children and adults are affected. While research has shown that peer pressure, depression and the effect of social media are the major causes of youths committing suicide. But for adults, the case is complicated. The cause might be a paradigm shift, divorce, depression and others. If not, why else would a middle-aged man with a wife and three lovely kids leave home for work, only to be found hanging from a rope in his office’s store later that day, cold and dead, with a note saying” I’m finally free”? His family and acquaintances till now never had an inkling of why he decided to kill himself. According to them, he was the perfect example of a “contented man”. So, why he took his life remains an enigma to them.

Some social psychologists are of the view that people who engage in suicide lack emotional intelligence: suicide happens in a situation in which an individual cannot control his/her emotions over a certain matter or situation.  For example, a 300-level student who killed herself because she failed eight courses out of the nine courses she offered in a semester. They are of the view that such a person lacks emotional intelligence, she lacks the ability to control her emotion. She is said to have low self-esteem. A case of attempted suicide by a 2019 UTME candidate in Ogun State was reported on May 13. The candidate identified as Segun reportedly attempted suicide by drinking Sniper after discovering that he scored 167 in the exam. He was reportedly infuriated that he would lose the opportunity to acquire tertiary education, which a kind Nigerian had offered him. The offer had come after he narrated the story of his life on his Twitter handle @ TweetsOfSHEGUN, on October 4 , 2018, where he explained how he lost his father at six and his mother had to cater for four children alone. Almost 99 per cent of individuals all have conflicts, challenges and battles they face every day: pressures from work, school, society or even from oneself. And of course, as there are different strokes for different folks, different individuals have different methods of dealing with conflicts. And for some people, the answer, sadly, is suicide.

Now, the social media, for instance, harps on virtual relationships. It has created even more distance from among members of the same family. You see husband and wife in the house not talking to each other because they are engrossed in the social media. You don’t know whatever their discussion would be. So, to a large extent, the unregulated social media in the Nigerian environment is also contributing to creating isolation. You know there is cyber-bullying. So, the social media, much as it has positive values, when unregulated and uncontrolled at the family level, can also be a basis for disaffection, isolation and individualism, all of which combine to predispose people to take the kind of actions that are detrimental, as we see in the case of suicide. Suicide in Nigeria has grown to an alarming rate and its effect is devastating; dimming the light of great minds, making children orphans, parents childless and the society confused.  What can then be done to stop this ravaging monster called suicide from preying on more people? What must be done to stop the unexpected, the uncalled for the death of people close to us?

Recently, it was reported that one Temitope Saka, a 17-year-old girl, died after drinking insecticide, Sniper, in the Igando area of Lagos State. It was reported that when Saka became pregnant, her grandma insisted she packed out of the house. A national daily reported that the victim drank the poison and began foaming in the mouth at her boyfriend’s house.

She was rushed to the Igando General Hospital where she died. And many other cases that have been reported by the media.

The rate of suicide today could have been largely reduced if people could open up more and share their problems with people who care and are ready to listen.

It could have been reduced if people never allowed the world to define them. Not letting people’s opinions change who and what they love, or how they act. Not allowing harsh words to hold them back, or criticisms keep them stagnant. People should never allow themselves to be changed for the wrong reasons Not making the world trick or mould them into thinking suicide is the best option.

Chief Executive Officer ( CEO ) of Therapy Consult, Lagos, Salem Pat Ogulowo, identified depression and unresolved grief as the major causes of suicide among the youths. The United Kingdom trained mental health psychotherapist and grief counsellor, said it was disheartening when she returned home two years ago and discovered that Nigerians, who once loved life and detested suicide, had started taking their own lives, including youths.

Her words: “ No child in his right senses would want to terminate his / her own life. The social media is an influence; no doubt about it. But you see, there is nothing good about depression. It ’ s something that when it ’ s there, you go to bed feeling good and the next morning you just find out that you are not yourself. Depression that becomes clinical craves death i. e. suicidal adulation and then suicide itself. And the route to depression is unresolved grief. Maybe, somebody, you look up to suddenly died and you just feel that your life cannot go on. Unresolved grief could also arise from anger, abuse, bullying, and peer pressure which the youths are facing these days. She also opined that the government have a role to play in reducing the rate of suicide in Nigeria. In her words “ I also think that as parents we should learn to befriend our children. We should learn to study them, know their moods and their body language. These youths who committed suicide didn’t  just wake up one morning to do it. It ’ s been in motion. It is something that they took time to plan . So, parents who allow their children to enjoy that so-called independence should ask their children the difficult questions that most of us are running from. “ When you notice that a child is moody, deeply sad, withdrawn or is either gaining weight or losing weight, ask the difficult question. And what is the difficult question? The difficult question is: Are you planning to take your own life? Asking that question would make the child feel that somebody already knows about the plan and that could make them abandon the plot, ” Ogulowo said. She added: “ Also, the government should establish a suicide prevention hotline. They have this overseas and I think we need one in this country right now. Life can be saved through that. The government should also attach psychotherapists to hospitals and clinics. Most individuals who display psychological illnesses or issues are often medicalised. That is where people like us come in because some of them don ’ t require any medicine. A lot of them just want somebody who will listen to them, somebody they can trust and confide in. I know schools these days have counsellors. Also, teachers and counsellors in our schools should join the parents in asking the difficult question when they notice a child behaving abnormally. Teachers should no longer look away because of the abuses that come from some parents.”

Although the truth is nobody ever really knows how much anybody else is hurting, we could be standing next to someone who is completely broken, and we wouldn’t even know it, we might never know who is thinking about suicide and not able to talk about it because we don’t really know what someone else is going through. But this monster called suicide can also be dealt with by not judging others action if we notice any signs of pain, tiredness, hostility, negativity, or even oversensitivity, we need to respond to their pain by giving a word of hope instead of judging their sign.

However As long as we keep chasing what we love, as long as we keep listening to our heart and believing in ourselves and our dreams, we can, and will change the world.suicide is never an answer not a solution or an option but a Monster to be dealt with. SAY NO TO SUICIDE.

Abiola is a sociologist.

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