Denrele Animasaun

‘Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world’.- Desmond Tutu

For as little as N500, one can procure Sniper, the poison of choice for those who want to end their lives in Nigeria.

According to Vanguard Newspaper, the Director General of NAFDAC, Christiana Adeyeye, said Sniper containers “could now be made very difficult to open, or may be turned into a spray rather than the liquid contents it is known for.”

The suicide rate has increased in Nigeria with Sniper among the agents popularly used.

For those who dismiss the alarming trend, they do so out of denial, ignorance and indifference.  Time to take their heads out of the sand.

Suicide rate in Nigeria has reached a pandemic level and regrettably, the nation is ill-equipped to deal with suicide  in any shape or form.

Nigeria has  the 15th highest suicide rate worldwide and this is not something to be proud of.

More men kill themselves than women. Alarmingly younger men more so .

The age-standardised male rate is 17.5 per 100,000 people, while the female rate is 17.1.  Nigeria has the 56th highest suicide rate among men, but the 3rd highest among women. We cannot close our eyes to these facts.

The government has been too slow to act: it recently announced; that ‘it may direct a change’ in the package of the agro chemical pesticide poison of choice for those attempting to end their lives.

Emefiele’s fears of oil shock and ATM mentality(Opens in a new browser tab)

‘May direct’ just would not cut . Nigerians deserve a more decisive action like yesterday, this is not the time to play wait and see, every missed opportunity means more lives lost.

Do we really value Nigerian lives? If we do, then we have a fine way of showing it.

Now the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is grandstanding by making an announcement that it is partnering with other relevant agencies to discourage the use of Sniper as a tool for suicide. A bit late for that, no use shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. It had failed to expedite decisive moves.

The fact remains; their slowness to act to reduce access to this killer poison that has so far claimed hundreds and thousands of lives. Surely, Nigerian lives should be worth more than a mere pontification. The responsibility is not NAFDAC alone, our culture also renders itself to the lack of understanding of what drives a person to want to end his or her life.

Some years back, Jamaica had an issue with women buying chicken feed to fatten themselves up to look voluptuous and it was adversely endangering the lives of its citizens. The government acted swiftly, to make the chicken feed inaccessible to misuse.  They introduced permits. So without presenting a permit, one could not buy the chicken feed.  Similar initiative may go some way to control the  easy access of sniper for those who have the wish to end their lives or that of others.

Sadly, the Nigerian health care services is under-resourced and in dire state of restructuring. The sorry state of the economy contributes to the rising suicide rates in Nigeria.

High unemployment rates, pollution, uncertainty and high mortality rates all contribute to the cumulative impact on lack of resilience to deal with disappointment and emotional fragility.

We do not talk about suicide or why people may have suicidal thoughts.

Mental illness can affect anyone at anytime around the world. Nigeria is no exception. The trouble in Nigeria is that we deny having experiencing mental illness and people are quick to judge those who are finding it difficult to articulate their feelings as well as people are quick to judge people who need help, so many keep their problems to themselves.

Nigerians are fond of trends and sadly, the rate of suicide has become a trend and some have become an impulsive act that has no comeback. It leaves in its wake distraught friends and family who are left with more questions than answers.

The clues are there if we look and  listen more . People who are at risk of killing themselves become overwhelmed when they experience challenges in life.  When people lose hope or feel helpless about the future, they feel that they only have one option left and that is to end their lives. Given that some people have a predisposition to mental illness such as a family history of mental illness,so some people are likely to want to end their lives more than others.

The problems in Nigeria makes it rife for many to want to end their lives; lack of employment opportunities, grinding poverty, difficult  life challenges, disappointments, relationship breakdowns, physical,sexual or financial abuse. The more of these challenges one has , the higher the risk of suicide.

No one wakes up out of the blue and decides to take their own lives. The clues are always there and it is up to each and everyone to reduce and encourage those experiencing mental distress.

So it is important that one takes it seriously  when someone close regularly or casually talks about dying or wishing they could go to sleep and never wake up. These are all red flags and it should be taken very seriously. If someone mentions that they would want to walk off and never come back it is also a red flag. When a person lose interests in what  usually gives them enjoyment, or they have become so sad and inconsolable, they are socially withdrawing from friends and family, they stay home and unwilling to go out, they stop caring for themselves, not eating.they feel ashamed or irritable and their mood fluctuate more than usual-these are all emotional markers of depression and propensity to suicidality.

Look  for the verbal cues, it is there : they feel like a burden, they feel that nobody wants them around,they don’t want to exist.

People sometimes don’t talk but their behaviour gives clues that they are feeling suicidal: isolating, aggression, agitation,recklessnes may be your drinking too much or drug taking or searching for ideas to end their lives.

Please dont ignore these clues and don”t be afraid to ask direct questions if there is an inkling that the person is exhibiting clues like some the clues discussed above. Ask them ;are you thinking of killing yourself ? Do they have a plan?  If so ,clarify and help them to seek profressional help fast.  Whatever you do, do not be quick to judge or tell that they are being selfish  or words to that effect.  Listen and remove anything that they could use as a weapon to end themselves.

Lastly, I heard about the Nigerian high commission in London melee? What are your thoughts and have you had any experience while processing passports or Visa document. I will like to hear your experience.







Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.