By Esther Onyegbula
Some years back, Nigerians were referred to as the happiest people on earth. Unfortunately today, that has become history as a lot of people slide into depression and become suicidal.
Hanging, drinking insecticide (Sniper) or jumping into the lagoon (especially for those who live in Lagos) seem to be among the commonest means of taking one’s own life.
25-year-old Mohammed Jafar was on Wednesday, January 23 prevented from jumping into Lagos lagoon in an apparent suicide attempt.
Jafar was rescued by officials of Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) while trying to jump off Carter Bridge and later handed over to the police.
Operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of Lagos State Police Command also rescued an unnamed middle aged man who attempted to commit suicide by trying to jump into Lagos lagoon from the Third Mainland Bridge on January 15.
In yet another case of aborted suicide, 58-year-old Taiwo Titilayo Momoh was rescued by policemen as she tried to jump into the lagoon around Oworonshoki on the Third Mainland Bridge in 2017 as a result of unpaid loans.
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If Jafar and Momoh, among others, were rescued before they carried out their suicide plans, others like Allwell Orji, a medical doctor who jumped into Lagos lagoon, DJ Xgee Seun Omogaji, Joy Mariam (a graduate of the Federal Polytechnic, Nassarawa), Aisha Omolola, a 300-level student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Moses Prince (who checked into a hotel in Festac where he committed suicide), 61-year-old Jesutosin Adeniyi of 3 Kadaki Lere Street (whose body was found dangling from a tree at Catholic Mission Street, Lagos Island), Adekunle Oluseyi, who left his Ondo State base to attend a church programme at the Redemption Camp three days before he jumped into the lagoon, and many others who took their lives were not as lucky.
The reasons people choose to end their lives vary. Some do so because of complicated relationships, blackmail and shame while others commit suicide because of debt, rejection, inferiority complex and economical hardship, which leads to depression.
In Momoh’s interaction with then-Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, the textile trader revealed that she attempted suicide because of the N18.7 million she owed her Swiss business partner. She was made to through post-trauma programme in order to drive the thought of suicide out of her mind.
According to a close friend of Mariam, a graduate of the Federal Polytechnic, Nassarawa State who drank poison in Abuja on January 5, 2019, she committed suicide after her boyfriend dumped her to marry another lady.
It was learned that the boyfriend informed her that he wanted to focus on his home.
After drinking poison, Mariam reportedly called one of her friends and revealed the action she took and the reasons.
She was rushed to a hospital in Abuja where she gave up the ghost.
In the case of Omolola, a 300-level student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, she took her life on Wednesday, December 26, 2018 because of a disagreement with her parents.
Omolola, who took Sniper (poison) in her apartment in Samaru campus of the university, left a note with important details including her phone unlocking code and bank debit card pin number.
She blamed her parents in the note, saying her death will bring them comfort, including her brother who at a time had the responsibility of raising her.
Omolola added that she should be buried immediately. She emphasised the rough relationship she had with her mother, who, according to her, accused her of witchcraft.
The victim apologized for the pain her death will cause friends.
Although most people commit suicide without leaving note while some teenagers and young adults who write notes do so in diaries, many these days post such notes on their social media handles before embarking on their journeys of no return.
The New Year had barely begun when the news of Omogaji, a Lagos-based DJ, taking his own life on January 2, broke, moments after leaving a note on Instagram.
Omogaji, according to a source close to his family, drank Sniper hours after making a post on his page.
In the suicide note, Omogaji stated, “Okay, there is a twist to this last respect ppl (people) give to their loved ones when gone. Black is a sign of sadness. But in my case, please rock WHITE cos I love this colour so much. To all (who) have made (me) smile and to those l have pissed off, trust me l am only being human. Enikorewa, l love u so much. Eriayo, ur name sums it all up, u are truly d reason for my joy. Omobolanle Ajoke, u know I care. Moradeke, my mum, may my God heal u and to my in-laws, stay blessed always”.
Teenagers and little children aren’t left out of suicidal tendencies.
In Delta State, 15-year-old Oghenevwede Michael reportedly committed suicide after her parents allegedly reprimanded her for staying out late.
Oghenevwede, a Junior Secondary School 2 student, was said to have died at a private clinic after drinking a substance believed to be insecticide in August 2018.
Similarly, in the early hours of June 18, 2018, 15-year-old Rukayat Taiwo was confirmed dead at Iganmu General Hospital, Lagos, after drinking a poisonous substance, in her bid to evade being disciplined by her mother.
In Abuja last May, an 8-year-old boy reportedly committed suicide (by hanging himself) after losing a game to his brothers. Also in a school in Iloko-Ijesha, Osun State, a child was said to have committed suicide by hanging last May.
Narrating how her son took his life two years ago in Ehime-Mbano local government area of Imo State, a widow, Liwisa, said it was a devastating experience any parents should not go through.
Liwisa said, “The most heartbreaking ordeal every parent prays never to experience is the death of a child. This feeling is worsened when that child took his own life; it is a very traumatic experience and I don’t wish even my enemy to go through the experience I had when my last child committed out of depression. He was in his teen when he hanged himself. I had gone to the shop, a few kilometres to the house that fateful day. His other siblings were in school. I was still in the shop when I was called that something had happened, but by the time I got home he was gone. His lifeless body was dangling from a tree behind the family house in the village. But I noticed before the incident that he had difficulty sleeping at night and became edgy unlike his usual self. “I felt it was a phase in his teenage life. I was devastated by the incident as I didn’t know my son was struggling with something or that he was depressed to the extent that he would take his own life”.
28-year-old Dave Yinka, who almost took his life, also narrated his story.
Yinka said, “I always wonder why I didn’t commit suicide when I was facing some challenges. At that time I had lost everything and still had hospital bills to pay, financial challenges and dependants, it was as if the entire world was against me and God did not exist. For someone who was once doing well, counting millions, l found myself in a situation where I had to engage in bricklaying to feed my family. It got to the point whereby I had nowhere to sleep other than inside my bus.
“There was a time I had to gather my credentials and started begging car owners one after the other to give me any available job after I was rejected in house cleaning job because my qualification was too high for the job. I suffered but my faith in God saw me through that period in my life.”
According to Joy Iseki, a counsellor, shame and trauma therapist, increase in suicide in Nigeria depends on many factors.
“The recent increase may have been due to ‘wannabe syndrome’. This is common among youths. Because of the hype in social media use, many of them not knowing how to create a balance are getting caught up in the comparison race”, Iseki said.
“Children are more susceptible to trauma because of their own helplessness. Again, suicide is a bit complicated. So many factors contribute to it. More studies shows that suicide is mostly related to our childhood experiences. Anyone who may have experienced a trauma or is depressed, should seek professional help, talk to a therapist”.