On Covid-19 and rising suicide cases

There appears to be a resurgence of suicide cases across the country, with many Nigerians going as far as killing themselves over loss of jobs, lovers’ brouhaha, loss of betting, etc. Also, despite psychologists and health experts’ advice complications arising from the Covid-19 pandemic seem not to help matters. PAUL OKAH reports.

It is no longer news that almost all the sectors of the economy are being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to sack of workers, slash of salaries, delay in payment of salaries and inevitable closure of businesses. Little issues that ordinarily can be resolved with communication are allowed to degenerate, with many irascible Nigerians opting to embrace suicide.

There is no agreeable statistics on the number of people of Nigerians that commit suicide on a daily basis across the country, especially as incidents in the rural areas go unreported in the media.

 Lagos cases

On July 23, this year, a 70-year-old lottery shop operator, identified as Baba Pool, committed suicide by hanging himself inside his shop in Kayode Market, Abule Ijesha, in the Sabo area of Lagos state, over his failure to pay some of his customers their winnings.

According to a national daily, in a suicide note the deceased pasted at three strategic places in the market before he took his life, he wrote, “For your information, Bourney and Osuma. Two of them kill me. A killer must surely die.”

According to the Iyaloja of the market, Aderemi Thomas, the accused persons played lottery in the deceased’s shop, but after winning, they could not get their money.

She said, “I learnt that Bonny and Osuma came to play lottery in his shop, but he did not submit their tickets to the lottery office. So, when those people realised that they had won, they asked for their money. Instead of explaining to them that he did not submit their tickets, he committed suicide.”

The matter was reported at the Sabo Police Station and the state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, who confirmed the incident, said the two accused persons had been arrested for questioning.

He said, “We received a report about a 70-year-old who committed suicide in the market. The man accused one 85-year-old man and another man.  He left a note that those two people were responsible for his death; we want to look at the extent of their culpability. We have commenced investigation on the role they might have played and on why he accused them.”

…In mum’s presence

Perhaps, the most bizarre and unfathomable of suicides is that of a 32-year-old man identified as Aboh Ogbeche, who, on Friday, July 17, committed suicide at his family residence in Lawanson, Surulere area of Lagos state, with friends blaming it on low self-esteem.

Aboh was said to have poured bleach liquid in a cup, sat before his mother, gulped the substance and immediately began to convulse and was subsequently pronounced dead in a hospital he was rushed to.

A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Aboh was a very jovial person and nobody knew he could think of taking his own life. He was from Cross River State and about 32 years old. He slumped in the presence of his mum around 3.30pm on Friday after drinking a brand of bleach. He was rushed to the Aishat Hospital in Idi Araba, where he died. His body has been deposited in the LUTH mortuary.”


Similarly, on June 21, a woman committed suicide in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital, after taking to Facebook to post a cry for help. In viral news online, the deceased, Princess Folashade Eloho Bello, a single mum-of-one, spoke about giving up hope, but ended the post with a smiley that masked the pain in her heart.

Due to the smiley face emoji, friends said they didn’t understand that she was going through a lot and two days after sharing the post, she allegedly committed suicide on June 21, leaving behind her young son, Cristal.

Niger cases

Residents of Rijau local government area in Niger state are presently worried over the increasing incidents of suicide, especially among the elderly, and have called on the government to begin sensitisation programmes that would re-assure people not to take their lives.

In June, within a space of two days, two middle-age men committed suicide in the local government area. According to media reports, the incidents which occurred on different occasions put the number of suicide in the last three months in the local government to 13.

 The two deceased men, identified as Barde Swashi and Jibrin Dakarkari, hanged themselves on a tree and did not leave any suicide note.

In the case of Barde Swashi, his decomposed body was found hanging on a branch of a mango tree in his farm in Darangi community in Rijau in the early hours of Friday, June 26. His family members said he had left home without any information of his destination.

“On that fateful day, he never displayed any strange act and we never suspected that he was going to hang himself in his farm. It was, therefore, surprising to receive the shocking news that a middle-aged man corpse was seen dangling on a branch of a mango tree in a farm and on getting to the farm, we discovered the corpse to be our person,” a family member said.

Jubrin Dakarkari, in his mid-60s from Dukku community, was said to have complained to neighbours that he could not continue to live without any tangible job, but the neighbours never thought it would lead him to take his life.

One of his neighbours, who spoke to newsmen, said: “We never thought that he was going to commit suicide with that comment he made as we all convinced him that all would be all right.”

Why suicide?

In an exclusive interview Blueprint Weekend, a clinical psychologist, Mr. Ajeigbe Ayodele, who works with Olive Prime Psychological Services, Jahi 1, Abuja, said there were many underlying factors that trigger off suicidal thoughts in an individual, especially at this Covid-19 pandemic period. He, however, said the work of psychologists and psychiatrists is to help people to get out of such situations by treating their mental illnesses.

“The pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainties to the lives of citizens of the world. Some are coping well with it, others are living with the stress, the confusion and the unseen and devastating pains daily, while others are living in a state of despair and may have no other thoughts than killing themselves.

“The uncertainties of the economy have profound impact on people’s mental health, leading to increased feelings of anxiety and depression. Millions of people have lost their jobs; some have lost their homes or businesses, goals and dreams seem shattered. The situation in the country is depressing to a significant population,” he said.

He said further: “The relatively poor healthcare system, the daily uncovering of corrupt practices from government officials, the poor security situation of the country and the current economic situation of businesses in the country can all contribute the increase in feelings of anxiety and depression or suicide.

“At this Covid-19 period, there is a possibility of a dramatic change in mood – engaging in risky activities or acting before thinking things through; having feelings of irritability; agitation or uncontrolled anger; withdrawing from friends, family and society; feeling hopeless about the future; feeling trapped, like there’s no way out; thinking of not wanting help, anxiety, problems with sleep; having no reason for living; having no purpose or meaning in life; coping with alcohol, cigarette or other drugs and wanting to look for ways to hurt self.

“If you’re experiencing any of the above feelings or other uncomfortable feelings or thought processes, kindly reach out to a licensed clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. There are different therapeutic techniques that help to change some of our views about things around us and provide better alternatives to our initial thought processes. It’s working and several people have been able to regain their happiness, found meaning and purpose in life.”

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