We are in the season of insanity. This is the season in which people are plotting escape routes from their troubles. Suddenly, Nigerians are in a flux, running away from anything and everything that is like a pain in their necks. If you think that suicide is top on the card, watch more closely. It’s not only suicides. Running away from the country through the desert and taking the perilous boat ride by the Mediterranean Sea is also an escape route. There are many other strategies still. There is so much desperation in everything we do, something akin to madness. One person travels through the African desert to Europe and everyone heads for same route, without a second thought about the dangers inherent in the journey. Not even stories and pictures of fellow countrymen who had earlier perished on such trips would dissuade the others coming behind. And now like the mumu, one jumps into the lagoon and everybody appears to have found the long lasting cure to their pains. So, jumping to death is new style in town. If you can’t pay your children’s school fees, house rent or the loan you took from your market group, the only way out of the misery is death. It’s so alarming that when the body of one victim was being searched for in the one of the well-publicized incidents in Lagos, it was the corpse of another that was first recovered from the lagoon. No one knew when he made his own fatal plunge.
And while some are heading for the lagoon, others are opting for the noose and ending it, painfully. Why should anyone tie the noose round his own neck? Why should anyone hand himself or herself the punishment only reserved for murderers? No one convicted you, why then convict and award yourself capital punishment? Even those so convicted by the lower courts for offences punishable by death take their appeals to the higher courts and when the Supreme Court, the highest court of justice in the land confirms their sentence, the governors still do not sign the death warrant. Interestingly, those the government has found not worthy to live are still being kept in the prisons and fed at the expense of the state. Those who need help are now killing themselves.
Following the tragic doctor’s incident on the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni banned residents from walking on the bridge, lest they get tempted to plunge into the lagoon. Fire brigade approach! Will the law enforcement agents also keep their eyes on every possible space where people can go the extreme? Can the law enforcement agents monitor those who do the unthinkable using the ceiling fan in their bedrooms or those who take advantage of the trees in the neighbourhood? Watching over bridges and rivers is not the best means to prevent suicides. The same way it has been impossible to stop Nigerians who travel through our borders out of desperation to get out of poverty only to die in the desert or in the North African sea.
The best means to save Nigerians from untimely deaths is for our representatives in government to provide good leadership, which unfortunately, is a mirage. In the last few months, all we have been contending with is personality politics at the expense of people’s governance. From President Muhammadu Buhari’s ailment and trip to London; Ibrahim Magu’s confirmation; Hameed Ali’s uniform; Dino Melaye’s certificates, Bukola Saraki’s alleged multimillion naira SUV; Ali Ndume’s suspension and very soon back to Buhari’s in London. These whirling political shenanigans are enough to make desperate citizens lose hope to stay alive. The privileged ruling elite must realize that the wellbeing of every Nigerian is their responsibility. Not only are they accountable to the citizens on how they fulfill their mandate, they are also accountable to God. With the upsurge in the cases of attempted and actual suicides, calls have been mounting that people who are emotionally troubled and need help should visit psychiatric hospitals for attention. Easier said. The question is how many psychiatric doctors are in our hospitals? A few years back, the total number of psychiatric doctors in the country was put at over 100. At most they are not up to 300. In a country of 180 million, where there are countless mental illness triggers!
While waiting for our rulers to wake up to their responsibilities, I will rather than support watching over the bridges for people who want to end it all, plead that our religious leaders should fill the void.
But for religion, suicide cases in this country would have been astronomical considering the threats. Suicide is cowardly. It’s a cowardly bid to run away from a problem, an attempt that compounds, rather than solve the problem. Families must also watch their members closely and offer help and comfort to any who may be so overwhelmed by life vicissitudes to contemplate ending it all. No religion condones suicide. Even in our traditional life, it is abomination and those who kill themselves in some communities are left to rot in evil forest. Our Pastors and Imams must continue to give hope to the people and discourage them from killing themselves.