For Blessing, a young Kogi State-born Abuja resident, July 4, 2017, will ever remain a red-letter day. It was the day God gave her second chance to live and tell the ugly story of how she almost carelessly terminated her life in a failed suicide attempt:
“Satan almost succeeded in pushing me into committing suicide but for divine intervention through even an enemy in my yard.
“My ordeal started when I travelled to my state, Kogi, to attend my immediate younger sister’s wedding. I regretted attending because it was as if all attention was diverted to me. Almost all the elderly women and men kept asking me when my own will come or don’t I want to marry.
“It became embarrassing that I had to abandon the wedding event. When I explained to my mum the nasty experience, her utterances did not help matters. I complicated my situation when I angrily returned to Abuja the next day.
“Left alone, suicide thoughts took over me. It heightened especially as I was not into any serious relationship then. I was dating a guy, but it was obvious we could not marry. He had an acute erection problem that we did everything possible to overcome without any success.
“I could not handle the psychological trauma throughout that night. I resolved to end it with sniper the next day. I actually bought sniper in the morning, waited for people to leave my compound, bolted my door and was about consuming the substance when I heard a knock on my door.
“I quickly hid it, opened the door, only to see my worst enemy in the yard standing and requesting if I had a lighter. Alone inside my room again, I came back to my senses that God must have sent her to save my life. I disposed the substance immediately and that became the beginning of my turning point.
“Few days later, I received a call from a man who informed me that he saw me at the wedding, felt in love with me and luckily got my number from my sister. One thing led to the other and today, we are happily married. I still find it difficult to believe that the event which almost cost me my life, gave me a banker husband.”
Another resident, Judith, narrated:
“My suicide attempt and depression was a secret I have carried for a while now. Sometime in 2016, I looked at my life, saw nothing worth living for and resolved to end it. After all, no one was going to miss me anyway.
“I grew up with my grandparents but when they died, I was messed up. I became angry with God and made a lot of insane decisions. I believed He was unfair and partial in His treatment. My desperation to get hooked up on available dude to save myself the dilemma of where to always go to resulted in my pregnancy.
“To cut the long story short, I gave birth to a baby without being married which rubbished the self-image I built growing up. Because I was bright, intelligent, wise and looked up to, everyone was upset and disappointed including my uncle who played fatherly role in my life.
“Having disappointed my family, I had no other person, the few ones I turned to turned their backs on me including some I have helped in the past. I was all by myself, without a job or savings to take care of me and my babygirl.
“I finally joined a friend when I was given quit notice in Abuja. Things got tougher because my friend was not with us. I became depressed due to loneliness, no love, no family to talk to, no job, no improvement and achievements.
“I was depressed because I was a shadow of the bright girl I used to be and as an introvert; it was very difficult to randomly speak out to persons. The depression continued till one day.
“I had bought sniper previously because of mosquitoes but on that day, I looked at it and asked myself, ‘why am I existing? What was the point of suffering, there is no one to prove anything to, so why the struggle?’ I got the bottle close to me, wrote a suicide note apologizing to the lady who gave me her room and made a video for my family using my laptop, I opened it to gulp down.
“Just at that moment I heard ‘Mummy I want to drink water’. Startled, I turned and saw my daughter; she just woke up from sleep. I set the bottle aside and gave her water, I even contemplated giving her a little of the sniper too so we both can rest but then I couldn’t. How can I destroy a child I brought to life?
“I couldn’t even leave her all by herself in this wicked world. She would be lost just like I was lost. The dilemma continued and she was all over me, drying my tears and telling me ‘sorry don’t cry’. If it was not for her, I would be dead by now and people would have posted my picture online saying she killed herself, leaving her baby behind. The bottom line is, I survived because someone was with me at that point.”
If the duo Abuja residents were lucky to survive suicide attempts to tell their stories, a gospel artiste with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Michael Arowosaiye, who allegedly committed suicide last month, was not that lucky.
Arowosaiye, who regularly performed at RCCG programmes and even ministered during a recent youth praise event at the church, was said to have hung himself with his belt at Sunnyvale Estate, Lokogoma District, Abuja after going into depression over certain personal issues.
He was not the only unlucky suicide victims. Last month alone; suicide cases degenerated into an alarming rate and dimension with statistics confirming a 38-year-old lecturer and 400 level from University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) committed suicide.
Also in the successful suicide list was an unknown rape victim; a candidate who failed JAMB; a fresh graduate of Yaba College of Technology, Lagos and a Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Ikorodu, Lagos student, who took his life because his lady walked out of their nine-year old relationship while engaging in her compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
Disturbed by the alarming rate of suicide and suicide attempts, the Nigeria Police expressed concern, telling Nigerians clues to watch out for in a potential suicide victim.
Speaking to Daily Sun in his office, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Frank Mba, took time to enumerate the causes of suicide and the clues to watch out for: “I am not one of those who want to box the entire reasons for committing suicide on economic factors like unemployment, economic exclusion and deprivation.
“Suicide is a conscious and deliberate self-annihilation that is beginning to become a major social problem in the country today. Suicide is as old as I can remember. Many people that commit suicide are those suffering from emotional distraught, some are people that believe that they have been massively disempowered, disappointed, depressed, relapsing into a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.
“Some are also suffering from intensive deprivation. Some of the factors that drive suicide are subjective. Once someone faced the factors enumerated, they are capable of driving suicide. I am not one of those who want to box the entire reasons for committing suicide on the economic factors like unemployment, economic exclusion and deprivation.
“People have always committed suicide for different reasons. From the biblical account of Judas Iscariot to the Okonkwo of Things Fall Apart, different reasons accounted for committing suicide.
“Our responsibilities as care givers, teachers, police officers, parents, pastors, Imams, spouses, brothers, sisters, community members should be to consistently understand and identify clues that could show that one is harbouring suicide thoughts.
“Incidentally, in almost all suicide cases, the deceased had at one time or the other shown those clues, which could be verbal for example when one threatened to commit suicide, but we either might have disregarded them or failed to act on them. If we can interpret those clues, it will help a great deal.
“Some persons planning to commit suicide seek validation by asking whether it is not better to commit suicide than walk around with this shame. Is it not better to die than live with full blown AIDS? Most time we validate them unconsciously by concurring and they go home thinking that they are right.”
On the clues to detect attempts, the police spokesperson said: “There are behavioural clues when people, through their actions, begin to manifest signs that show they are probably thinking about suicide. Some that use to be extroverts suddenly become extremely withdrawn.
“There are conditional clues when many of them will become extremely melancholic because they lost a spouse, brother, boy or girl friend, father or mother and have taken the mourning to the extreme or beyond the normal cause of mourning.
“Some of them going through terrible divorce experience writhe in pains, with shame and humiliation written over them. So, suicide clues can be behavioural, verbal or conditional,” he said.
Giving more light about suicide, he explained that: “our concerns as law enforcement agents go beyond the fact that the man or woman who is suicidal has eventually taken his or her life. Our concern is far deeper and wider because experience has shown us that the person that is suicidal sometimes could actually first eliminate or kill significant others around him or her before they take their own lives.
“So, they commit both homicide and suicide at the same time. And because they have successfully committed suicide, we cannot prosecute them for the homicide. We have seen instances where for instance someone who wants to commit suicide will first eliminate his or her children, feeling that if they commit suicide leaving their loved children, they will be left to suffer.”
He equally explained the legal implication of committing suicide:
“Incidentally, once a person has successfully committed suicide, the law does not and cannot punish the person. Paradoxically, it is a punishable offence in Nigeria for any unsuccessful suicide attempt.
“Anybody that facilitates, aids or abates the commission of suicide, knowingly and deliberately, is guilty of an offence. Anyone that acted as an accessory to the commission of suicide before, during or after, is guilty of an offence.
“For instance, if Mr A is desirous of committing suicide and calls Mr B who is on his way to the market and pleaded that he buys him one gallon of Otapiapia on the excuses that his compound has been infested with maggots and promising to give him money on arrival, the law cannot hold Mr B responsible or liable for aiding and abating suicide.
“However, if Mr A had told Mr B at that point he asked him what he needs the substance for that he is sick and tired or this world and he needs to end it and return to his Creator and he still goes ahead to buy it for him free, he will be arrested for aiding and abating the commission of felony.
“However, the law needs to be reviewed for two reasons. If someone who is suicidal knows that he or she will be arrested, investigated, tried and jailed for a failed attempt, it will be an incentive to do everything possible to complete it successfully. For them, failure is not an option.
“I also strongly feel that persons that commit suicide need help and it will be double jeopardy to take someone in need of help, subject the person through the process of arrest, trial and then sentencing. Suicide should be treated differently.
“There should be a combination of tools for managing suicide or failed suicide rather than the straight jacketed approach of treating it as a criminal offence. As long as that law is not amended, we are duty bound to follow the law.
“Although the police cannot lay hand on the statistics of documented suicide cases, however, men have more propensity of committing suicide than women, just as the case is more rampart among middle age than senior persons.
“It will be very difficult to put hands on the figure but what I can say is that from the figures we are getting from the commands every day, it is clear that there is an increase in suicide compare to what we have always had.
“Secondly, I will also say that from studies conducted, men have much more higher chances of taking their lives more than women. Finally, people within the middle age between twenties and above also tend to have a higher propensity of committing suicide more than senior citizens.”