By Esther Onyegbula
Several years back Nigerians were referred to as the happiest people on planet earth.
But today, that is history as there are enough reasons not to be happy: family pressures, fear of failure, economic challenges and rejection among others.
Consequently, Nigerians are increasingly sliding into depression and becoming suicidal.
Hanging, drinking insecticide (Sniper) or jumping into the lagoon (especially for those who live in Lagos) are among the easiest ways to take one’s own life.
Despite mental health awareness being carried out by professionals to assist persons who are depressed, the rate of suicides is increasing.
In the last three weeks, no fewer than four cases of suicide or attempted suicide were recorded across the country.
The rate at which individuals decide to pull the plug is frightening.
A middle aged man (names withheld), on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 was prevented from jumping from the Third Mainland Bridge into the lagoon in an apparent suicide attempt in Lagos.
The victim, said to be a chartered accountant, was rescued by operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) attached to Lagos State Police Command.
The victim was later handed over to Adekunle Police Station which contacted his family.
The case reminds of another middle aged man, Kingsley Gabriel, an undergraduate of Lagos State University, who, in June 2018, attempted to take his life when he jumped into the lagoon from Falomo Bridge, Lagos before he was rescued by divers.
If Gabriel and the other middle aged man were lucky to be rescued, others were not.
Chukwuemeka Emmanuel Akachi, a final year student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), successfully committed suicide penultimate week.
Michael Arowosaiye, a gospel artist, also took his own life on Tuesday, May 14.
Earlier on May 5, the lifeless body of Naan, a 23-year-old 200-level student of the Department of Marketing, University of Jos, who allegedly committed suicide, was recovered from his hostel room.
Other reported victims of suicide of recent include DJ Xgee Seun Omogaji, Joy Mariam (graduate of the Federal Polytechnic, Nassarawa), Moses Prince (who checked into a hotel in Festac area of Lagos where he committed suicide), 61-year-old Jesutosin Adeniyi (whose body was found dangling from a tree at Catholic Mission Street, Lagos Island), Adekunle Oluseyi who left his Ondo State residence to attend a church programme at the Redemption Camp on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway three days before he jumped into the lagoon.
The reason people choose to end own lives varies from one individual to another.
While some decide to end it all because of complicated relationships, others do so because of blackmail, shame, debt, rejection, inferiority complex and economical hardship.
For instance, according to his suicide note, Michael Arowosaiye, a former gospel artist with the Redeemed Christian Church of God who ended his life with his belt at Sunnyvale Estate, Lokogoma District, Abuja, claimed accommodation issue was the reason behind his action.
However those close to Michael dismissed the claim.
Christabel Adaure, who claimed to have known the deceased, shared the reason he fell into depression.
In her Facebook post, she explained that Michael committed suicide because his wedding, which was slated for April 27, was called off due to alleged sexual immorality.
It was gathered that he was suspended from the choir for allegedly luring his choir female members into amorous relationships after nude pictures he sent to some of the members were leaked.
On his part, a young secondary school leaver simply identified as Segun, attempted suicide over his low score in the recently released result of Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
In the case of the final year student of English Department, UNN, Akachi, said to be a native of Eha-Alumona in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, he was said to have battled dementia for a while before ending his life.
According a close friend of Mariam, the graduate of the Federal Polytechnic, Nassarawa State who drank poison in Abuja on January 5, 2019, committed suicide after her boyfriend dumped her to marry another lady.
It was learned that the unlucky lady decided to end her life after the said boyfriend informed her that he wanted to focus on his home.
After drinking the poison, she reportedly called one of her friends and revealed the action she took and the reasons.
Mariam was rushed to a hospital where she gave up the ghost.
The story of Aisha Omolola, a 300-level student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, shows that suicide is, in fact, not a respecter of festivities as she took her own life on December 26, 2018, the day after Christmas, citing her parents overbearing influence as reason.
Aisha, who drank Sniper in her apartment in Samaru, Zaria left a note for her friends with the code to unlock her phone and bank debit card pin number.
She waxed philosophical in her suicide note, hoping her death will bring her ‘overbearing parents’ and her brother, who at a time was said to have been responsible for her upkeep, comfort.
Aisha added in the note that she should be buried immediately.
While emphasising her rough relationship with family members, she disclosed that her mother accused her of witchcraft.
She apologised for the pain her death will cause friends.
Meanwhile, findings show that many teenagers and young adults no longer write suicide notes on paper, some now post them on social media handle before embarking on their journey of no return.
New Year suicide
The New Year had barely begun when news broke of a Lagos-based DJ, Seun Omogaji, who took his own life on January 2, leaving a note on Instagram which went viral.
Omogaji reportedly drank Sniper, an insecticide, few hours after posting his suicide note on his page.
In the note, Omogaji wrote: “Okay there is a twist to this last respect people give to their loved ones when they are gone. (Wearing) 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 I have pissed off, trust me, I am only being human. Enikorewa, I love u so much. Eriayo, your 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”.
Strangely, teenagers and little children aren’t left out of the growing suicide craze.
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, according to a report, died at a private clinic after drinking a substance believed to be insecticide in August 2018.
On June 18, 2018, another 15-year-old, Rukayat Taiwo, was confirmed dead at the Iganmu General Hospital, Lagos, after drinking a poisonous substance, in her bid to evade being disciplined by her mother.
In yet another incident which happened in Abuja in May 2018, an 8-year-old boy reportedly committed suicide (by hanging) after losing a game to his brothers.
A report also said a child committed suicide by hanging in a school in Iloko-Ijesha, Osun State.
A widow’s agony
Narrating how her son took his life two years ago in Ehime-Mbano local government area of Imo State, a widow, simply identified as Liwisa, whose son allegedly committed suicide, said it was the most devastating experience any parents should go through.
Her words: “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 suicide out of depression.
“He was still in his teen when he hung himself. I had gone to the shop which is a few kilometres from the house that fateful day when it happened. His siblings were in school. I was in the shop when I was called that something had happened and by the time I got home, he was gone.
“His lifeless body was dangling on a tree behind the family house in the village. But before the incident, there were times I noticed he had difficulty in 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 experience.
He 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, I found myself in a situation where I had to engage in bricklaying to feed my family.
“It got to the point I had nowhere to sleep than to lay head in my bus. There was a time I had to gather my credentials and start begging car owners one after the other to give me any available job after I was rejected in a house cleaning job because my qualification was too high for the job.
“I suffered but it was my faith in God that 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 pressure to wanna be syndrome. This is common among youths”, she said.
“Because of the hype in social media use, many of them who do not know how to create a balance are getting caught up in the comparison race. Children are more susceptible to trauma because of their own helplessness. “As they grow older, they may find it difficult to remember all the details of the event, but having the effects affecting their behaviour.
“Again, suicide is a bit complicated. So many factors contribute to it. Studies show 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”.