Columns

December 3, 2022

Suicide

By Francis Ewherido

There is a plethora of reasons why people commit suicide: economic hardship, heartbreak, loneliness, mental illness, depression, drug addiction, sexual abuse, bullying, verbal abuse and many others.

From my personal observation, many of the recent cases of suicide in Nigeria were as a result of the economic hardship and youngsters who had issues with their lovers. The two most recent cases were the young man, who committed suicide because a girl dumped him, and a lady, who jumped into the lagoon from Third Mainland Bridge after a heated conversation with her fiancé.

I do not know the details of the conversation. As a much younger person, committing suicide as a result of heartbreak never made sense to me. In fact, always I found it amusing. Suicide will never be acceptable to me as a Christian, but haven experienced heartbreak, I can empathise because I know what it is like to be heart broken.

I was weeks away from my first traditional marriage when my relationship with my fiancée broke up. Introduction had earlier been done. Like marriage, no single person can make a relationship work. It takes the two people involved to sustain a relationship.

Once one party wants out, the relationship is over. There is nothing the other party can do about it. I was like a mad man after we broke up. It was like my body was on fire. The pain was unbearable. I lost weight. Then it hit me that I could not bear the weight alone. I travelled to Warri, Delta State to meet my family.

Once my mother saw me, she knew something was fundamentally wrong. I narrated everything to her. I could feel her agony. My elder brothers lent me shoulders to lean on. With the support of my family, I pulled through the heartbreak. Family support is very important.

I have written articles on the need for strong family bonds and being in the life of your children. Family helps people to go through difficult situations. Family bond and being in the life of your children do not happen overnight. They are built over time. Something got me thinking some time ago.

We (my wife and I) went to drop two of our children in school. Since they are first timers, we stayed back to help them with their registration, accommodation and settle down. While on it, they met their former school mate in secondary school. I always like doing small talks with my children’s friends to know a little about them.

When he came to greet us, we asked about his parents. “Gone as usual. It has been like that since secondary school. I am used to it,” he said apparently pained. Shivers went down my spine. The parents are certainly not in the boy’s life. How can you drop a youngster with his pieces of luggage in the parking lot of a new school and zoom off.

They feel picking the bills is enough, while the boy has a contrary view; he expects a lot more. I once told you how my friend went to pay the son’s school fees. He asked the son to remind him of the amount. “Dad, how am I supposed to know that?” he replied in astonishment. That is the mind set of many youngsters

Young people do have boyfriends/girlfriends who jilt them at some point. They also get bullied and threatened. They have no experience and are not mentally ready to deal with these complex life situations. They need help, they need support and they need a shoulder to lean on? At such times which institution is more appropriate than the family? Protect your children from potential suicide because of heartbreaks and bullying by being in their lives. 

The other major reasons for suicide in Nigeria, in my opinion, are the hard times. Times are very hard. There is no need deodorising it. Some men cannot meet their commitments anymore. Feeding the family is a big problem, keeping the children in school is a tough task, maintaining hitherto lifestyle has become virtually impossible.

When the going gets tough, you have to be real before frustration drives you to suicide. You are the first bus stop. You lost your N30m PA job, let go of all non-important domestic staff. What are you still doing with a driver? Drive yourself and do school runs; change the school of your children to another one where the fees will not choke you. The fees do not necessarily reflect the quality of knowledge that schools impart.

I mentioned jettison in an article previously. Practice jettison as we know it in marine insurance. Cut down your expenses to a manageable extent, so that you do not allow yourself to be driven to the point of committing suicide. When family and friends see the genuine efforts you are making to stay afloat, they will assist. But if you maintain your status quo, you are on your own. Nobody likes funding luxury. People just want to help you meet your basic needs. If you want to live a luxurious life, you must fund it yourself.

Some people are sick and cannot afford the cost of treatment. Some are lucky because family and friends are supporting them in this difficult time. Some have no such support. They cannot bear to see themselves or/and their families suffer.

They choose what they consider the easy way out: suicide. I used to call such people cowards, but I cannot anymore. I will rather advise them to fight to the end. Sometimes solutions come at the 11th hour when all hope is lost; the light might be at the end of the tunnel. I still maintain that suicide is not an option.

For those whose relationship with their family is broken, repair it. The family ought to be your first port of call when you are in distress. If you do not have a “good” family, have reliable friends, be active in your town union or join a good club or society that takes the welfare of their members serious. The problem that some people have is that they were never there for family and friends. When in need, there is scarcely anyone from both family and amongst friends who wants to there for them. 

Finally, let me end with the following pieces of advice. Even if you are a billionaire and you think you do not need anyone, I advise that you change your mind-set. You need your family and friends. Go ahead and mend fences. Where has one tree ever made a forest? If you are in a critical health condition or in coma, can you drive yourself to the hospital? Whom have you seen in this world that conducted his own burial? Even the most powerful in the world will ultimately be put six feet below by someone else. 

Conversely, some people also that because they do not have money they cannot be there for others. Inability to know that you can be there for others is the real poverty. You can use your time and God given talents and skills to help others and make the world a better. Nobody is all in all; also, nobody is totally useless unless the person decides to be so. Above all, let God reign supreme in your life.