Henry Umahi ([email protected]) with agency reports
On April 1, Kafayat Alake, a mother of three, attempted to take her own life by jumping into the Osun River in Osogbo. According to her, unbearable suffering pushed her into the action.
Kafayat said: “I am a mother of three. My husband lives in Lagos. I am fed up with life because things are hard.”
It was gathered that Kafayat was rescued by a Good Nigerian, David Johnson, who heard people shouting after she jumped the Gbodofon Bridge and jumped after her. He rescued her but lost his mobile phone.
While Kafayat’s family and friends are rejoicing over her narrow escape, there is nothing to rejoice about Mrs Esther Frank, a young nursing mother in her early 30s. Few days to Easter, on Thursday, April 9, to be precise, she reportedly took her own life in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State. She allegedly drank Sniper, a pesticide.
It was learnt that Esther, who hailed from Anambra State, left a suicide note to her two children, and her husband, who is from Delta State, saying she was tired of pressure. Esther’s suicide note read: “Please take care of my children. I can’t take the pressure and lies you are telling again. I can’t take it please, it’s too much. You made everyone around me to hate me. Please, forgive me, am sorry.
“Gerald, please forgive me. Andre, please forgive me. You guys are my life.”
Similarly, the family and friends of 23-year-old Rejoice are not rejoicing. On April 4, she committed suicide in Abuja because her lover did not give her reason to rejoice. He was allegedly cheating on her with another woman.
It was gathered that when Rejoice, who already had a child out of wedlock, discovered that her lover was also having fun in the bosom of another lady, she also drank Sniper. And the lady died.
Like Rejoice, Ayingba Rebecca Michael, a 100-level in the Department of Philosophy, Kogi State University (KSU), committed suicide in April last year, after her boyfriend jilted her.
Rebecca, who was in her 20s, was said to have died after drinking Sniper. She was buried on the same day at the Lokogoma Cemetery, Lokoja.
A week before Rebecca rebelled, on April 6, 2019, a lecturer at the Department of Mathematics, in the University of Ibadan took his own life because of his unfulfilled dream of completing his PhD programme. Some days after, another student of the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State drank Sniper and died.
While a 17-year-old in Jos, Plateau State, drank Sniper on May 15, 2019, the lifeless body of another student was found dangling in an uncompleted building in Nsukka.
Penultimate Monday, 23-year-old Bato committed suicide in the Angwa Tiv area of Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State. Again, he reportedly drank Sniper. No one knows why he turned Sniper to tea.
Month of suicide
It appears that April is the favourite month of people seeking suicide. In fact, the last one month has been terrible. On April 11, last year, a hairdresser in Fadausi Street, Ijeshatedo, Lagos, Kenile Nwabuzor,26, took her own life because her boyfriend, one David, said he was tired of fishing in her pond. She was buried on April 13, which was David’s birthday.
Third Mainland Bridge
Many prefer to end their sojourn on earth inside the belly of the sea. For them, the Third Mainland, Lagos is the place to be, the place where suicide is cheap.
In February, 2020, Daibo Toju Davies, 22, jumped into the lagoon on the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos. Director General of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, confirmed the incident.
Among several others, in 2018, a driver attached to the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), jumped into the lagoon from the bridge. Lagosians still remember the case of a medical doctor, Alwell Orji, who parked his SUV on the bridge and plunged into lagoon in 2017.
In March 2020, a father of six, Mr Felix Edore, 48, reportedly drank Sniper in Sapele Local Government Area of Delta State when he discovered that his wife was allegedly cheating on him. He was devastated to know that his wife of 16 years was jumping from bed to bed.
Same month, a policeman attached Akungba Police Division, Ondo, Tolulope, shot his wife and took his own life over alleged extramarital affair. The couple left a three-week-old baby and a two-year-old child.
While people were in Church on Sunday, March 22, another policeman, Inspector Kenneth Enamika, attached to 29 Mobile Police Force Squadron, Awka, Anambra State, was swimming in the ocean of blood. He shot a couple, Cajethan and Oluchi Aputanze and self dead at Ozoara, Mgbidi, Oru West Local Government Area of Imo State.
A source said: “The late inspector had given Oluchi N150,000 on trust that she would marry him, only for him to discover that later that she had already married Cajethan.”
So, when he discovered the love scam even as Oluchi refused to return the money he gave her, the policeman pulled the trigger. He left a suicide note and an AK-47 rifle at the scene.
Similarly, Samuel Nweke, 47, committed suicide after his wife allegedly abandoned him in their apartment at No. 5 Chief Nwankwo Street, Awada in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
It was gathered that Nweke’s wife left her home in February this year after a misunderstanding between the couple.
Police public relations officer in the state, Haruna Mohammed, who confirmed the incident, said Nweke’s decomposed body was discovered in his room by policemen from Awada police station.
Indeed, the list is endless. Almost every day, one reads about the death of at least one person by suicide in one part of Nigeria or the other.
Everywhere you go
Suicide is a worldwide problem. It is not restricted to a race, creed, sex, status or age.
On April 3, Daniel Furniss, 34, took his own life “after struggling with the lockdown at his home in Waterlooville, Hampshire. That is to say, loneliness pushed him over the edge.
His sister, Chelsea Furniss, 28, said: “Dan had a long history of mental health issues and one of the things he struggled with was being on his own. We were concerned about him being in isolation and stayed in touch but were not able to see him. We tried our best and let him know we were there for him.
“More could be done to help people who are struggling while self-isolating. Hopefully, what’s happened with Dan can raise awareness of these issues.”
Meanwhile, a report said: “Up to 150,000 Britons could die from non-coronavirus causes because of the UK’s draconian lockdown.
“A tentative estimate circulating in Whitehall suggests a six-figure death toll from a long-term lockdown, caused by a spike in suicides and domestic violence.” Put differently, more Britons will take their own lives in days to come due to financial worries and a disruption to routine.
As it is in advanced countries, so it is in poor countries. Accord to the CDC’s National Centre for Health Statistics (NCHS), in 2018, there were 48,344 recorded suicides, up from 42,773 in 2014. On the average, adjusted for age, the annual US suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 to 2014, from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest rate recorded in 28 years.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), close to 800, 000 people die due to suicide every year.
For every suicide there are many more people, who attempt suicide every year. A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.
Ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally.
Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally in 2016.
Suicide does not just occur in high-income countries, but is a global phenomenon in all regions of the world. In fact, over 79% of global suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries in 2016.
Suicide is a serious public health problem. However, suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions. For national responses to be effective, a comprehensive multisectoral suicide prevention strategy is needed.
Who is at risk?
While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness.
In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour. Suicide rates are also high amongst vulnerable groups, who experience discrimination, such as refugees and migrants; indigenous peoples; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) persons and prisoners. By far, the strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.
Methods of suicide
It is estimated that around 20% of global suicides are due to pesticide self-poisoning, most of which occur in rural agricultural areas in low-and middle-income countries. Other common methods of suicide are hanging and firearms.
Knowledge of the most commonly used suicide methods is important to devise prevention strategies which have shown to be effective, such as restriction of access to means of suicide.
Prevention and control
Suicides are preventable. There are a number of measures that can be taken at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts. These include reducing access to the means of suicide (e.g. pesticides, firearms, certain medications); reporting by media in a responsible way; introducing alcohol policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress; training of non-specialized health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behaviour; follow-up care for people who attempted suicide and provision of community support.
Suicide is a complex issue and, therefore, suicide prevention efforts require coordination and collaboration among multiple sectors of society, including the health sector and other sectors such as education, labour, agriculture, business, justice, law, defense, politics, and the media. These efforts must be comprehensive and integrated as no single approach alone can make an impact on an issue as complex as suicide.
Challenges and obstacles: Stigma and taboo
Stigma, particularly surrounding mental disorders and suicide, means many people thinking of taking their own life or who have attempted suicide are not seeking help and are, therefore, not getting the help they need.
Why do people kill themselves?
In his authoritative book, Suicidal: Why we kill ourselves, prominent psychologist, Jesse Bering, of the University of Otago in New Zealand, said: “The specific issues leading any given person to become suicidal are as different, of course, as their DNA—involving chains of events that one expert calls ‘dizzying in their variety.’”
It involves people with a diversity of ages, professions, personality and gender. Depression is commonly fingered in many suicide cases, yet most people suffering from depression do not kill themselves (only about 5 percent Bering says), and not all suicide victims were depressed.
He said: “Around 43 percent of the variability in suicidal behavior among the general population can be explained by genetics while the remaining 57 percent is attributable to environmental factors.
“In the vast majority of cases, people kill themselves because of other people. Social problems – especially a hypervigilant concern with what others think or will think of us if only they knew what we perceive to be some unpalatable truth—stoke a deadly fire.”
Like most human behavior, suicide is a multicausal act. Teasing out the strongest predictive variables is difficult, particularly because such internal cognitive states may not be accessible even to the person experiencing them. We cannot perceive the neurochemical workings of our brain, so internal processes are typically attributed to external sources. Even those who experience suicidal ideation may not understand why or even if and when ideation might turn into action.
This observation is reinforced by Ralph Lewis, a psychiatrist at the University of Toronto, who works with cancer patients and others facing death. He said: “A lot of people who are clinically depressed will think that the reason they’re feeling that way is because of an existential crisis about the meaning of life or that it’s because of such and such a relational event that happened.
“But that’s ok, no people’s own subjective attribution when in fact they may be depressed for reasons they don’t understand.”
According to a source, Nigeria sits in the 15th position in the world of suicide while topping the league in Africa. Experts say until the hardship in the country reduces and healthcare improves, more people will take the easy way out.