The increasing cases of suicide in the nation calls for serious concern such that one can no longer keep quiet. In the last few weeks, many people, mostly youths and young people, have taken their lives prematurely. This is not acceptable. Few examples would suffice. A physician attached to a popular Lagos hospital stopped his car on the Third Mainland Bridge and dived into the Lagos lagoon. A 500-level student of a federal university reportedly hanged himself in his hostel room, just as a 19-year-old second year student of a private university also reportedly took his own life. A popular Lagos-based disc jockey killed himself after leaving a suicide note, among others.
No doubt, the Nigerian economy is not booming and many citizens are finding it difficult to survive. Many people owe series of debts. The middle class has gradually been drifted downwards while the Naira has fallen in the foreign exchange market, making the price of all commodities to be out of reach of the common people. In spite of this, people should watch those going through trying periods in their lives. They should ask questions when their friends and associates are showing signs of despair, hopelessness, worthlessness and a sense of guilt or shame.
People are victims of all kinds of scams like the Ponzi schemes that wrecked them financially. Stigmatisation of persons with mental health issues is severe. For some people, depression starts slowly and then deepens. Those who take their own lives end the problem for themselves but created problems for others by their actions. Oftentimes, some people who have terminal diseases tend to take their life because they cannot go through the trauma associated with the ailments. They hardly get succour from those that should assist.
Government should intervene and reduce inflation by providing basic services such as electricity, potable water and healthcare for the people. Drugs for diabetes, malaria, high blood pressure and other widespread ailments have gone beyond the reach of the average Nigerian. This should be corrected. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently stated that in an average of one every 40 seconds, suicide is topping the chart as the number one killer.
Nigerians were reported to have committed suicide in the last few years a lot. Stigma and ostracism attached to suicide seem to promote the issue of why people are unnecessarily silent. Nigeria is presently among the countries with no national suicide prevention strategy. Trauma centres manned by seasoned psychologists and psychiatrists should be set up for counselling purposes. This entails the responsible reporting of suicides in order to avoid the risk of the aftermath. Many suicide notes are replete with confessions that the victims had no one to talk to, as loneliness and the absence of support are the features of suicide incidents.
Frustration leads to depression causing neglect and abandonment by those who should have cared but failed in doing so resulting in hopelessness, joblessness and loss of beloved ones or property. Others are terminal diseases, which often lead to resignation and then suicide, broken or failed relationships, fear of failing examinations, loss of means of livelihood, indebtedness and even provocation by family members are causes. The resort to suicide is worsened by rising societal expectations which the country’s economic seems not to support. Today, there are serious emotional and financial stresses among Nigerians, irrespective of religion and economic issues. The unemployment crisis has led to a situation where graduates who come out of school with great hopes cannot find menial jobs just to eke out a living. Too bad!
To forge ahead with life in this despicable situation, more Nigerians, especially the youths, have found solace in taking hard drugs. One of the consequences of these drugs is suicide tendencies. The rising spate of suicide among Nigerians in recent years cuts across gender, religion and culture. As a way out, there should be vigorous campaigns against suicide in the society. There is need to devote more time and resources, as most Nigerians would be have been cautious of responding to suicide.
Similarly, the government should open more counselling centres in offices and health centres where troubled persons can go to seek help. They should go beyond the seizure of such hard substances to controlling their production, distribution and sales.
In Nigeria, it is an offence for anybody to attempts suicide. Some states have now able to introduce legal frameworks to make up for the inadequacies in the Lunacy Act. This is still a big problem. The Criminal Code Act carries a penalty of up to one year in prison. The Lunacy Act is also deficient by not taking into cognisance the rights of persons suspected to have mental illnesses. Engaging more professional counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and doctors, is key. There is need for more and better awareness among young people in schools at all levels, mosques, churches and social event centres by informing and educating them about the dangers of suicide. We must rise up to this national calamity.