FRAYED nerves were soothed when rescue workers finally announced the recovery of the body of the late Dr. Allwell Orji, the medical doctor, who jumped into the lagoon from the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos State.
Generally speaking, suicide is often carried out as a result of despair; frequently attributed to mental disorders and stress factors such as financial difficulties, unemployment and problems pertaining to interpersonal relationships, among others. The growing cases of suicide in the country should worry every Nigerian. It should be stated that while some cases were reported, investigations have revealed that many suicide cases are never reported. Some reported cases in the media in the last few months would be analysed.
A former Secretary of the Mbiabong Village Council of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Ekanem Edet, was said to have committed suicide and left a note whereby he allegedly blamed his action on harsh economic conditions. One Chinonso also reportedly committed suicide after ingesting a substance suspected to be poison in Kubwa; a satellite town in the Federal Capital Territory, having left a note stating his wish ‘to go and rest’. Similarly, one Dayo was found dead in the Oke-Aro area of Akure, Ondo State because he felt he was not capable enough to fend for his family.
An albino, Ugochukwu Ekwe, was said to have equally committed suicide in Lagos, over the colour of his skin while one Busari was said to have hung himself over his indebtedness to a bank. Another Ekanem Edet reportedly hung himself in Akwa Ibom State and was said to have cited inability to meet his financial obligations before dying, one Mrs. Omolola Atejioye took her life in Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State under similar circumstances while a man in Mgbaleze Isu Community of Ebonyi State, Chijioke Ani killed himself in his farm. One Jane was found to have committed suicide when her fiancé allegedly jilted her, as another ex-NEPA (Defunct National Electric Power Authority) staff, Mr. Popoola Adepoju, was reported to have committed suicide in Idi-Ose, Ibadan, Oyo State after losing his job. The list goes on.
But what could have precipitated the suicide cases? Many factors have been attributed to the unfortunate situation but most of the cases have to do with the harsh economic situation in the country. Hence, the need for the government to do something to abate the trend without further delay. The reality today is that many people often find it difficult to meet basic needs of life. Good government policies, decisions and actions should be judged on their ability to provide the kind of environment for citizens to showcase their productive potentials and make available the necessary capacity to provide jobs and other economic benefits to the people.
Many people cannot eat and afford ordinary things that make life comfortable and worth living. Areas of urgent attention include the provision of employment to the very many young and able-bodied men and women who daily roam the streets doing nothing. Such people easily become vulnerable to suicide when societal problems mount on them. Apart from the jobless, many working class citizens continue to live poorly because of the very high inflation and cost of commodities prevailing in the nation. I have had the opportunity to speak with a cross-section of Nigerian workers who complain bitterly about the current fuel price in the country. By the time an average worker buys fuel for his car and some for the generator because of the poor and epileptic power supply in the country, nothing is left to take home.
Workers are reputed to result to all manners of loans just to survive because majority of the income would have gone into fuel purchase and transportation to work. Little wonder, Nigeria has been ranked the 103rd happiest nation in the world and 6th in Sub-Saharan Africa in the World Happiness Report. The World Happiness Report 2016 update ranks 157 countries by their happiness levels in which Nigeria dropped from its 78th position in the world and 2nd in Africa in the previous year’s happiness ranking.
Buttressing unpleasant working condition of Nigerian workers is Dr. Essien Attah, a colleague of the medical doctor, who committed suicide by jumping into the Lagos lagoon, Dr. Orji, who gave possible reasons why the doctor took his own life. Attah, in a Facebook post, stated that the unsatisfactory work conditions had driven many in the medical profession to a state of despondency. He explained further that the drop in job satisfaction, the barrage of dependents, who seek doctors out for financial support and the ‘recalcitrant nature of government has left many doctors on half pay, irregular pay or no pay at all’, poor working facilities and these could have driven the doctor to commit suicide. In a curious manner, the Lagos State Police Command rescued a woman, Taiwo Momoh while attempting to jump into the lagoon from the Third Mainland Bridge, while fishermen also rescued another, Mrs. Abigail Ogunyinka, at the Ebute-Ero end of the Lagos lagoon. Ogunyinka was said to have jumped already but was rescued by nearby fishermen. Both women said they are heavily indebted.
Therefore, the government should reconsider a reduction in the pump price of fuel without delay. Salaries should be remitted to workers as at when due while pensioners should be timely paid . Furthermore, relatives and friends should be more vigilant and sensitive to the behaviours of people around them. Many cases of suicide could have been averted if people had been more conscious of happenings around them.
What should we watch out for? Has anyone recently withdrawn from friends and relatives? Has a friend, colleague or companion become unnecessarily moody of recent? Is there any negative comment to suggest that someone is actually fed up with life? A positive timely word or conduct could save a life!
Such vulnerable persons should be appropriately counselled and prevented from avoid committing suicide. On a final note, while the emergency services of some state governments are up and doing, many others are terribly inactive and moribund due to poor funding and mismanagement. There is the need to ensure that such vital public offices are made ready and equipped to respond to critical situations, whenever they arise.
Mr. Adewale Kupoluyi, wrote from Federal University of Agric., Abeokuta, Ogun State.