Doctor, Final Year Student, Suicides: Why?

The unfortunate incident of Sunday, March 19, along the Adekunle-Adeniji route of Third Mainland bridge has left quite a few Lagosians and Nigerians in general in shock.

As the Guardian reports, a man believed to be a doctor stopped his car at some point in his journey towards the Island, and subsequently jumped. The reason for his action has yet to be ascertained but it is left to our imaginations to figure out what could possible make a man with an SUV choose to end it all.

As though that is not enough, the Punch reports that a Final Year Student of Ladoke Akintola University Ogbomosho was found hanging from a ceiling. LAUTECH just recently resumed after an eight month strike and this student, who according to his friends, was nearing the completion of his Project, seemed to have no issues. But then has taken his life.

So the question: Why the suicides?

First, it is instructive to note that Nigeria’s suicide rate is low, compared to most nations. On a ranking of 172 countries by the WHO, Nigeria is placed at 107, behind the US, the UK and most European countries.

While the figures are low, there is the semblance of a culture of suicide in Nigeria as this 2015 post tried to explain. Perhaps there have not been many cases this year but we know there were months in 2016 when it almost happened every other week.

The most obvious reason would be economic hardship, but there could be other causes. The case of the bank manager around August last year is a case in point. There are a wide range of possible physical and emotional causes that could trigger suicidal tendencies in people, from depression to desperation.  Some persons may be more inclined to be depressed than others and may have more triggers. The fact is that it can happen to anybody, regardless of economic status.

Beyond fixing the economy and making life better, it is important for citizens to play active roles in looking out for each other, especially towards those who may not be as emotionally strong.

With hunger in the land and palpable insecurity, it is challenging to give and build trust, but it is not impossible. Nigerians are still known to be receptive and neighbourly; in these challenging climes, these traits would be even more needed.

Very importantly too is the issue of more awareness about mental health issues. There are not enough pro-active measures about mental health in Nigeria as there are stand-up comedy and Instagram skits about it. Issues like Autism, Down’s Syndrome and Suicide rates require more attention. Also, we would need more than just over 100 psychiatrists in a nation of nearly 200 million. That is just disproportionate.

Some good actions are being taken; the New Superstory series ‘Godwin’ features a person amongst the cast with Down’s Syndrome. It is not the jackpot, but that is a very appreciable gesture for education and awareness.

Above all, the main message here is the need for just a little more kindness.

“Be Kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” Plato

Nigeria Suicide Hotlines are: 08062106493, 08092106493


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