*Some say economic hardship is beginning to take its toll
*Expect more – Psychologist, others
By VINCENT KALU
Some Nigerians are now embracing suicide which is considered a taboo or anathema in African societies as short cut to end their supposed lives of hard ship and economic nightmares. With this, their supposed misery and suffering brought about by the prevailing economic hardship are buried with them. The nation’s economy is in the abyss, and many companies have closed shop because of harsh operating environment, including their difficulties in sourcing foreign exchange. Consequently, many Nigerians have been thrown into the Labour markey.
About 28 states out of 36 are struggling to pay their workers. Many civil servants have not received salaries in the past seven months. Even workers in the private sector are not better, as only few companies pay salaries regularly. The cost of living is rising astronomically, such that citizens are bemoaning that they have never had it so rough.
Nigeria’s employment crisis worsened in the first quarter of 2016 with unemployment rate rising to 12.1 per cent, the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, said penultimate week. The bureau said in its latest Unemployment Watch report that between December 2015 and March 2016, the population of unemployed Nigerians increased from 518,000 to over 1.45 million.
Economically active or working population, the NBS said, increased from 105.02 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 106 million by the end of March 2016.
However, actual population of people willing, able and actively looking for work increased by 1.99 per cent from 76.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 78.4 million in the first quarter of 2016.
The report said failure of government to meet its target of creating a minimum of 1.5 million jobs required for the period to keep the unemployment rate constant at 10.4 per cent before the end of December 2015 worsened the unemployment situation.
Some Nigerians, who have therefore, resigned themselves to fate, believing there was no straw to hold on to, to keep afloat, had to succumb to the ignoble way of ending their lives through suicide.
In the last few months, there have been reported cases of about six Nigerians that have committed suicide, in addition to two attempts. They all cited the economic hardship in the country that has made life difficult for them, noting that they had never had it so tough and rough.
The latest being a man who allegedly committed suicide by jumping from the roof top of a skyscraper building, Kamar Kazum Plaza in Apapa, Lagos to his death on September 6. This, he blamed on the hardship he was passing through.
According to eye witness account, the individual complained bitterly about the Buhari Government and said he regretted voting for a Change that has only hardened his hardship and suffering.
Also, a 28-year-old man, who last Sunday, committed suicide in Edun Aboru community, a suburb in Alimosho Local Government of Lagos State.
The man, Yusuf Olubu was a commercial motorcyclist until the motorcycle was stolen a week before his tragic end. He ended his life by hanging himself with a rope tied to a tree in the Aboru neighborhood.
His wife and children had earlier left their 22, Tokyo Street, Edun, apartment days earlier due to failure to meet the essential needs of the family. Part of the victim’s burden was a tenement rate which he had to settle. His stolen motorcycle was said to be on hire purchase. The deceased, a National Diploma holder in Business Administration from the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, resorted to riding Okada, after his failure to secure employment after his ND programme.
Also, last week, a man jumped into the river on the Mile Two Bridge in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, Lagos State.
The unidentified man, according to eyewitnesses, stood on the bridge for some minutes, loudly expressed bitterness over his sufferings and how things had gone bad for him and his helplessness.
He was said to have mentioned Buhari repeatedly, muttered some other words before he finally took the fatal plunge.
However, the timely intervention of a passing speedboat prevented the victim, who is in his 40s, from drowning. Passengers on the speedboat dived into the river, dragged the man who was gasping for breath to the riverbank, and continued their journey.
An eyewitness, said the victim, who wore native clothes, was left on the floor for a while, unconscious until the state emergency number – 112, was called and the Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS) arrived in about 20 minutes.
The three-man medical team went ahead of the bus to resuscitate the victim. According to one of the medics, the man had to be given first aid drip, explaining that he was too weak to make it to the hospital.
Still unable to bear and keep afloat in the present reality, on August 19, a mother of three, Olubunmi Uko, a businesswoman, was said to have walked out of her Fola Agoro home in Somolu area of Lagos, after leaving a suicide note. She was said to have complained to a relative over her business, which had gone bad due to the exchange rate and that her debts had risen beyond redemption. Olubunmi, reportedly walked out of her home. She reportedly woke up her children and informed them that she was going to visit someone. The older children, Iyiola and Toni, woke up later to find a suicide note allegedly written by their mother. A relative told reporters that, “she addressed the suicide note to her children, her mother and to any other person concerned. She said nobody should bother to look for her, that she was going to jump into the river and end it all. “She said she was tired of life. She also said that by the time the letter would be seen, she would have ended inside the belly of a shark. “She had always complained of dwindling business due to high exchange rate. At a point, she complained that she owed people and had no means to pay back. She also said that she borrowed half a million naira to offset the loan, but decided to use it on her business with the hope to make some gain, but that the money ended up sinking in the business.”
In the same month of August, A 48-year-old landlord hanged himself in Ibadan, leaving behind a three-page suicide note. The incident happened in Idi-Ose along Akan road in Ona Ara Council Area of the city.
The deceased, Popoola Adepoju, was found in his room dangling from a rope tied to a ceiling fan.
Residents of the area said the father of three sent his children on an errand before taking his own life.
Adepoju’s wife told the police that her husband left the defunct National Electric Power Authority in Abeokuta two years ago but his entitlement was yet to be paid. She added that he had engaged himself in cement business on a small scale before his death.
A landlord in the area, who did not give his name, however, gave a hint that the deceased was going through a difficult period.
He said that the deceased had wanted to sell his Honda car for N250,000 but only got a buyer who was ready to pay N150,000.
He said Adepoju had planned to buy a smaller car that he can use as taxi to supplement what he made from the small cement business he was doing.
He said, “he wanted to sell the car so he could buy a small vehicle which he would be using as cab to serve as a sustaining means of livelihood for his family. He however, said that the amount being offered was insufficient.
“He sometimes complained that things were no longer as they were before he was disengaged from work. It was a surprise when we discovered that this unfortunate incident had happened.”
Also, a 66-year-old man, Mr. John Ekue, committed suicide in the Mende area of Maryland, Lagos State.
Ekue used a rope to hang himself by the rod of a ceiling fan in his apartment on Oki Lane around 8pm on Monday.
It was learnt that the victim, who worked as a driver for a paint company in Lagos State, killed himself over the failure of the company to pay his five-month salaries.
The victim was said to have been facing tough times since April 2016, when he stopped going to the company, whose name was not disclosed by his family members.
The deceased, who earned N30, 000 per month, reportedly became frustrated when feeding became difficult for him.
Our correspondent learnt that his only son, identified simply as IK, a salesman, had been supporting him with his meagre wages.
IK had gone to buy food for the father when the incident happened.
He said, “His son had gone to buy food for him that evening. But when he returned, he saw his father’s body dangling from a rope and he raised the alarm. People went into the room to help rush him to a hospital, but he died.
In July, Unable to continue with the economic hardship, an elderly man in Anambra State took his life by hanging
The body of the old man who is said to be a grandfather, was found dangling on a tree after he hanged himself.
The old man killed himself because of the suffering and hardship he has been undergoing. The man was said to be asthmatic, and he could no more afford money for the medication.
Alos, A retired Captain in the Nigerian Army committed suicide in Calabar, Cross River State, on May 18.
The body of Friday William who originally hailed from
Mkpat Enin Local Government of Akwa Ibom State was found
dangling on a mango tree outside his compound at 34, Edim
Otop Street, Calabar.
Residents woke up to behold the sight of the dangling Captain after he had sneaked out of the house in the dead of night while the family slept.
“We woke up in the morning to behold the body dangling on the mango tree outside the compound and we do not know what was responsible for his action.
We gathered that Captain William had allegedly sent a text message to one of his sons who lives in Port Harcourt, at about 10pm, to condole with him over his own death and advised him to be strong to take care of his siblings.
But the son did not see the message until he got a call the next morning that his father had committed suicide and I feel he had tied the rope ready for the act before he sent the text.”
Tope Diya, 21, committed suicide at his place of work of Olayiwola Street, Oko Oba, Agege on May 19, 2016.
Tope who had been a resident of 5, Ademolu Street, Oko Oba, was reportedly found dead at about 7:00am, after he had used his cloth to hang himself from an aluminum frame at the scene.
Tunde Olanuyan, 21- year-old Ordinary National Diploma Accounting student of the Lagos State Polytechnic, Lagos, had May 25, 2016 drank a poisonous substance, with a suicide note notifying them of his action.
This was because his school fees, N45, 000 which his parents struggled to gather was stolen by suspected pick pockets inside a commercial bus while on his way to school, an act he concluded dashed his hope of furthering his education.
Expect more suicide cases, Psychologist warns
Head of Department of Psychology, Lagos State University, Ojo, Dr. Kayode Taiwo, has said that the present political and economic situation in the country is affecting the psychological resilience of people. The societal expectations, personal expectations are important landmark in the ways individuals see themselves. When they are unable to meet this standard, they become what we referred as unfulfilled expectations, which affect their emotions, their cognition, that is, the way they think. These also affect their self-worth; self esteem. And when these things are significantly affected, they lead to depression and depression can lead to suicide.
These are very good indicators to government that, governance is not being felt by the ordinary man.
Suicide will definitely be on the increase, since the economic policy of the government is not something that would bring the desired result soonest, except of course, if government does something extraordinarily and very drastically.
On why people should commit suicide, which is anathema to the African society, the university don said, it is not as if suicide is strange to the African society, the population has multiplied, and worldwide there is economic downturn, which is affecting every nation. Unfortunately, in Nigeria we don’t have a social net. In those days, people used to look for one another, the family ties were very strong; communal bond was strong. All these are psychological issues, but they have broken down significantly. Meanwhile, the government of today would tell you that it is because of past government. The truth of the matter is that the economic situation is affecting the national psyche; it is not lifting people up psychologically.
Human rights lawyer, Fred Agbaje said, this trend is ominous for the international image of the country. That figure of suicide or attempts may even be higher by the time you look around.
According to him, the Presidency signed a budget that is not being implemented and so companies, governments hide under that not to pay salaries.
“The suicide rate is traceable to the cluelessness of the Presidency in its economic policy summersault; companies are closing shops and laying off workers; companies are not getting forex because of CBN inconsistent policies.”.
If you take the man from his job and nothing is left him, then you have taken the man out of him, he may prefer death to shame.
According to the President of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, suicide is an anathema in Africa. Any thing that will drive a person to suicide must be very weighty. This economic crisis is close to what people endured between 1984 and 1985. The situation today looks hopeless because the government today has not given a demonstrable sign that it can solve it. The only answer is to blame the previous government. People are tired of hearing this blame game. It is good for history classes, but not for going forward. Some people who do not see a way out take the short cut and end it all. Suicide is not a solution but a creation of more problems for the relatives of the dead man. The society must not be pushed into the position that suicide is a solution. The managers of this economy must get down to getting us out of this crisis. And fast too.
Brady Chijioke Nwosu, a former gubernatorial aspirant in Imo State, noted that before Nigeria officially plunged into recession, the government had promised pulling the country out of it in eight weeks but unfortunately , the bites have persisted and worsened into fatalities . With clueless ideas seemed off sight for solution, I’m absolutely sure that Nigeria will soonest be graduating from current recession and up into depression. A period in which there’s miniature economic activity, many people do not have jobs and sadness envelope the land and feelings badly among the populace will surge. Meanwhile, people are migrating from cities to villages in droves because of severe economic hardship and hunger and Nigerians should expect more suicide swell. Shambles! Our political leaders should positively work towards revamping economy.
Barrister Ody Ajike said, the economic situation does not require anyone to take his/h life but this situation shows the height of frustration confronting Nigerians today. The term is called frustration -aggression theory. There is no clear economic direction. It is vintage Buhari. In 1984 he also had no clear economic plan. 30 years after, the same approach is presented to us. There is no clear policy by government to visit Nigerians with a prosperity plan except a skewed foreign exchange policy, which favours only a few. There are just media promises of social support and basically nothing concrete. There are no deliberate plans to lift the people from poverty to the middle class. The government has failed to engage our limited resources into projects with high civil and socioeconomic impact. The government as an agent of the state is watching over the depletion of lives and people-confidence is eroding quite briskly coupled with gross insecurity. Let’s all pray for Nigeria. We may expect more suicide since it’s purely a structural challenge now and it can’t be reversed by a single government decision, but by series of economic and social decisions over a period of time.
The way out includes the government rethinking free market because no market is actually free without the control of government. It’s about creating incentives towards the real sector to encourage production. It’s important for government to understand that our infrastructural Commons includes the traditional infrastructure and the service industry, which will get people gainfully employed.
Also commenting, Dr. Tokunbo Pearse said, the suicide is a tip of the iceberg of what is going on in the country. According to him, “it is a fraction of what is going on. The number may be higher, when thousands are being laid off from works on a daily basis. Companies are folding up. Last week, both Aero and First Nation airlines closed down and laid off their workers. People are dying in thousands daily without committing suicide because there is no money for them to go to hospital. It is the failure of the Buhari government, enough of the blame game, he should go down to work. How can you ban the importation of what you know you don’t produce? Companies are finding it hard to access forex, but like Sanusi said, the forex favours the friends of the Presidency, who stay in their house and get forex with ease.”
Suicide risk factors and warning signs
►Suicide risk factors
The following conditions/situations are associated with an increased risk of suicide:
• Death or terminal illness of a relative or friend
• Divorce, separation or the breakup of a relationship
• Loss of health (real or imaginary)
• Loss of job, home, money, status, self-esteem or personal security
• Alcohol or drug abuse
There are also certain times when people may be more prone to suicidal feelings, such as:
• Holidays and anniversaries
• The first week after discharge from a hospital
• Then treatment with an antidepressant first begins
• Just before and after diagnosis of a major illness
• Just before and during disciplinary proceedings
Emotional and behavioral changes associated with suicide
Emotionally, the suicidal person may be feeling:
• Overwhelming pain
• Worthlessness, shame, guilt or self-hatred
• Fear of losing control and harming themselves or others
Behaviorally, the person may:
• Appear sad, withdrawn, tired, apathetic, anxious, irritable, or prone to angry outbursts
• Not be performing well in school, work, or other activities
• Become socially isolated or fall in with the wrong crowd
• Have declining interest in sex, friends, or activities previously enjoyed
• Neglect personal welfare or let their appearance go
• Experience a change in eating or sleeping habits
►Suicide warning signs
Suicide warning signs that you should be aware of include:
• Previous suicide attempts
• Preoccupation with death
• Statements like, “you would be better off without me” or “I wish I were dead”
• Talking openly about wanting to kill oneself
• Development of a suicide plan, acquiring the means to carry it out, “rehearsal” behavior, setting a time for the attempt
• Self-inflicted injuries, such as cuts, burns, or head banging
• Engaging in risky behavior such as driving recklessly, using drugs or having unprotected sex
• Making out a will or giving away favorite possessions
• Inappropriately saying goodbye
• Making ambiguous statements like, “you won’t have to worry about me anymore”, “I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up” or “I just can’t take it anymore”
• Suddenly switching from being very depressed to being very happy or calm for no apparent reason