Cutting the head to cure headache
By Bayo Fasunwon
The year 2019 has been an eventful year in Nigeria. The people have not reached the middle of the year, yet death stares everybody in the face. The nationals have become apprehensive, pursued by death. The Boko Haram group have not ceased killing, the Fulani herdsmen are still taking lives, armed bandits have upped their game of life snatching’ road carnage snuffs out hardworking souls, malaria contributes its own daily quota to the mortuary, while those in search of the golden fleece, take the souls of men in order to get their parts for rituals. Death seems to stand at every door, every corner, and everywhere.
Palpable as these avoidable deaths are, the government’s hands seem tied in stemming them in the tide. However, of all deaths in Nigeria, the most miserable and on the increase is deliberate and conscious death by oneself – suicide. It is a known fact that many Nigerians are, in their land dying by installments by certain unwholesome habits and negligence, but the outright decision and execution of willful instantaneous death is barbaric and alien to our culture as a nation. No suicide can be discarded as trivial; however, it calls for a greater concern when the profiles of the deliberate embracers of death are wealthy businesspersons, a first class student, university don, successful Disc Jockeys, civil servants, university undergraduates, and religious leaders. These are not mere mortals, but human beings with great potentials and proven records of accomplishment. What is happening?
All over the world, Nigerians are known for their ‘never say die’ spirit. The Spirit of Naira had always given the impetus to all Nigerians to keep pressing on until their visions become a reality. The spirit of hope is daily rekindled by the self-encouragement that “one day, I know say, I go make am’ and the most popular ones in the mouths of all and sundry ‘tomorrow go better’. Nigerians are men of faith, resilient, hardworking, innovative, strong, reliable, and religious. The nation and her nationals abhor suicide to the extent that when somebody decides to take his or her life, the general cause is alluded to demonic and esoteric ‘remote control’. In the street parlance, Nigerians would conclude’, ‘he or she no get liver’. If these are the Nigerians the world knew, why is suicide on the increase?
Many people would be quick to cite economic deprivations as being the major cause of suicide in Nigeria. The examples of Directors who committed suicide after being made an economic reject by the non-payment of owed salaries would be cited. In addition to this, there have been cases where people have attempted suicide because they owed a paltry sum of N150,000 naira. Some others could not bear the pain of economic hardship on themselves, children, or relatives, and they felt that dying would be the way out. Economic deprivations are lethal weapons against people who have been brought up to fend for themselves with dignity. When such could not bear the blame of bankruptcy or the pain of lack and want, suicide becomes the route freedom from economic lacks. However, if it is economic deprivations, why do the rich also toe the line of suicide? To this, many reasons have been advanced to include ego, shame, hopelessness and other reasons. However, the most potent persuader to suicide remains depression, which could have its provocateurs in economic deprivations and other social causes.
Depression occurs when a human being loses interest and or pleasure in daily activities. It is accompanied with persistent sadness over a long period. It is therefore a mood disorder characterized by persistent low mood, loss of interest in events and life, and feeling of sadness. When these feelings are temporary, then such is normal and may not be classified as depression. In the cycle of life, there is a time to cry and a time to laugh, because not every day is Christmas. However, when your friend finds it difficult to sleep or sleep excessively, exhibits loss of energy, feels unworthy, and guilt ridden and talks more of death or suicide, depression is at work. Depression could be caused by normal life events, trauma, some prescribed drugs, and chronic pain syndromes. When a vibrant being becomes withdrawn, pessimistic and exhibits withdrawal syndromes, depression may be his ailment.
Before the embrace of internet and social media, it was quite easy to notice such symptoms in our family or neighbours. Families and neighbours used to have interactive sections; friends visited friends and communication was a face-to-face affair. People were able to share their innermost feelings with family members and friends, and often times heavy hearts are relieved. Even among the three religions, visitations were rife. Brethren visited one another, shared question and answer sessions and weighty issues are discussed and prayed about. In certain cases, help is solicited and found in the social relations that existed between families and friends. However, when social media came, everyone became virtual and pseudo relations. It is absurd to realize that husband and wives have become familiar strangers. They have become more intimate with their phones than with their children and mates. Many spouse and children have bottled their frustrations, just waiting for the appropriate time to end their lives. Economic needs and the quest for self-reliance destroyed family ties. Non-contact relationships soared on social media. We have become friends with those we would never meet and become aliens to those we dwell with. The packaging of appearances on social media and the lies that are posted increases the [pain and depression of those who felt that social media pretenders are more successful than they are. Risky pieces of advice given by people of different cultures, ties, and experiences become the aphrodisiac of many hurting souls. These advices only increase their depression and move them towards suicide – the decision of the valiant – so they think.
The religious bodies also share a bit of the blames. When religion hammers more on the possession of wealth rather than building up stamina to withstand the tough times, depression may not abate. The religious homes ought to be places of hope, care, and development of faith. When the poor cannot find solace in the comfort of the words of life, the religious houses only become breeding homes for those seeking death. Religious organisations should seek to interact with members, investigate their well-being, and render help when needed. It should also be noted that not all challenges of worshippers are spiritual in nature. Therefore, financial, psychological, medical and employment needs could be met, as able. There are many people in religious houses that are suffering and smiling.
Finally, it is pertinent to implore the youths to desist from the illicit use of drugs. While it is commendable that Codeine and Tramadol are not as common as it used to be, other drugs induce depression and may lead to mental distress . Unrestricted access to hard drugs would remain a threat to a sane society.
Most religions and culture teach that those who commit suicide never get to the golden city that is heaven. They become wandering souls and eventually end up in hell. Let us all look at the bright side of life, and wait for the hope that would soon appear . There are many heartbreaking occurrences in life. However, when challenges come, we all should Endeavour to speak to someone face to face. It may be a doctor, psychologists, friends, or family members. Tribulations are normal concurrencies in the world; but when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. To him that is joined to the living, there is hope. Remember that cutting off your head is not the cure to headache.