Suicide: Before The Darkness Takes Over

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Often, we never anticipate suicide by those who fall victim to this creepy evil. Come to think of it; really, we NEVER see it coming. In retrospect, we often begin to 'recognize' the signs and symptoms that we were either ignorant of; or never took seriously.

The problem with suicide is that because it probably hasn't happened to someone we know, we assume it is not as commonplace as it is. But the reality is that deaths by suicide are statistically high. World Health Organization (WHO), in its World Suicide Prevention Day 2022, puts the number of annual suicides at 1 in every 100 deaths or 730'000.

To many, that doesn't seem to be an alarming figure since many more die from other causes of death. That may be true. But what should alarm us about suicide is that the death of the victims involved was a deliberate choice. A conscious decision to end their lives abruptly despite the opportunity to live beyond that day!

Suicide
Suicide

As someone who lost a friend to this darkness about three years ago, I have often pondered what could drive anyone to the precipice of such darkness and why we never see it happening until it eventually does.

For my friend, all appeared to be good with him as we teamed up as two unapologetic Man United supporters to continue our verbal battles with supporters of rival teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool. Nothing appeared amiss as his demeanor, body language, and choice of words never gave anything away as signs that all was not well until I was called that he had taken his life by ingesting "Sniper" after returning home from work; leaving a young wife and two very young daughters too.
But the truth was: "Did anybody have reason to anticipate death was stalking this vibrant young man in the guise of suicide?" Did we "listen" instead of just "hearing" him talk? Because after his suicide, the significance of a question he posed to me and another friend of ours as we waited for a Manchester United match to come on became guiltily poignant.

He had asked in summary if it was proper to let one's wife know all one's secrets or issues you were handling. Recalling our response - my response to his query now - I don't think I helped with my answer. Thus, his wife, unfortunately, had no opportunity to help him, to perhaps bear the burden of his work challenges with him.

The concept of mental health doesn't resonate naturally with the typical Nigerian man or the African man in general. We are raised not to be "Sisi" by showing emotions. It is considered effeminate and disgraceful for you to cry as a man. Hence, even when being choked to death by the stranglehold of debt, marital challenges, business failure, or grueling job demands (where you do have one), you're, as a Nigerian man, expected to be "Okay."

To quote Gov. El-Rufai of Kaduna State, "Those who live in Lagos should get a pass into heaven because they already live in hell." A resident of a state like Lagos should, as a matter of necessity, give serious attention to their mental health. The fact that you have to pay incredulous amounts for an even more incredulous apartment space in a filthy locality in hundreds of thousands for multiple years yet to be lived; or the sanity-defying traffic that makes you leave your bed and home at 3 or 4 am only to return between 11 pm and midnight can only make you wonder how many people in that city are sane.

Of course, suicide isn't a Lagos curse, as it is in the top 10 countries with the highest suicide rates; still, you can't help but wonder if, for a country that is politically adverse to the collection of appropriate data; how many suicide deaths go under the counter as natural causes, besides the fact that families often want to avoid the social stigma associated with it or the eventual police "wahala" that often accompany it.

The recent death by suicide of Laolu Martins (now being disputed), a stakeholder in the fast-growing "Bukka Hut" restaurant franchise, barely two weeks after a nonacademic staff of the University of Benin, Prince Carter Oshodin, took his own life in the face of seemingly insurmountable economic hardship thrusts the topic of suicide in technicolor in our faces.

While Nigeria may not, for now, feature amongst the top suicide countries like Lesotho, Guyana, and South Korea - either because of lack of accurate data or as a result of our resilient nature as Nigerians; still, it is my candid opinion that we all learn to do more to look out for one another - family, friends and colleagues alike - to ensure that step up and step in, in time to help those who may be prone to this evil before the darkness takes over.

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