The frequently reported spate of suicide cases in the last two years is giving most sociologists, psychologists and rational thinkers an uneasy task to unravel the reason behind this self-destructive option called suicide. This scenario could be defined or described as an act of intentionally masterminding one’s own death, committed to escape from suffering, guilt, allegation, shame, threat, pains from terminal sickness, the long arm of the law, and stigmatization etc. To the sociologist therefore, the frequency of suicide is attributable to the present economic situation in the country. The psychologist nibs it to the individual lifestyle, while the rational thinker may deduce it to the spiritual and total collapse of our family and overall societal value system. The collapse of our value system seems to garner more weight in the sense that with strong or proper moral values, most anti-social behaviours and vices would not flourish.
The theory of cause and effect have proven that in everything that happens, there is a reason. This identifies that in every suicide case there is a reason to it and therefore the following factors may be considered to trigger the malady of suicide. They include academic and health challenges, hopelessness, mental disorder, economic hardship, spell, family covenant (trace of suicide or ritual death in the family) etc.
Suicide does not just happen suddenly, but is a planned act that could take weeks of planning by the individual and could be detected by some strange behavioural pattern of the victim. Some of the observable behavioural patterns are frequently talking about death and such expressions like “I am tired of this life”. Others are withdrawal tendencies from public and social gatherings, including friends and relations, sudden and negative changes in mood and behavior. Also, aggressiveness being easily irritated and unnecessary generosity with personal belongings.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines suicide as “deliberately killing oneself” which has suddenly increased in Nigeria in the last few years in all states of the federation. This traverses social boundaries with the following few cases; in May 2018, 46-year-old Aniekan Peter Sunday, the only son of the family from Otomo in Ika Local Government of Akwa Ibom State committed suicide within the week of his father’s burial. Forty-nine-year-old father of five, late Abolarinwa Olaoye, a civil servant with Ekiti State Scholarship Board, hanged himself within the State Secretariat. According to his co-worker, late Olaoye complained of having financial problems. A day to the act, the victim confided to his sister-in-law, Mrs Elizabeth Babalola, thus: “I am tired of this life”. A senior lecturer with the Biological, Science Department, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi took his life on grounds of marital issue, and a colleague at the University of Ibadan also did same. Others are: a staff sergeant attached to 192 Batallion of the Nigerian Army in Gwoza, Bornu State.Twenty-seven-year -old Pedro from Bayelsa State also took his life for being dumped by his girlfriend, a 300 level female student of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria whose suicide note pointed to a troubled life.
Again, a 100 level female student of University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) took her life by drinking two bottles of sniffer, a brand of poisonous insecticide, and Adewara Damilola of Ogun State University also by drinking poisonous insecticide. Another student, Miss Mary Afolaranmi of Obafemi Awolowo University, took rat poison to terminate her life for scoring an E in Chemistry 101. Last but not the least, Mr Amatari Christian committed suicide following the threat from his wife’s cultist lover when he caught the wife, Tombara, red handed in the act.
Though this malady is a taboo in every culture and religion the world over, and is a bad omen to the family and community, also a nightmarish experience to loved ones left behind, yet many consider it as the only route of escape from challenges. This abominable act should therefore be urgently mitigated through restoration of family values, sensitization and advocacies in schools, churches, mosques, markets, village or town hall meetings etc. The government should place an outright ban on sniffer insecticides, rat poisons, etc. All tiers of government should also implement people-oriented programmes to restore hope to the citizenry. Immediate action is necessary as Nigeria is ranked the world’s fifth in this abominable, odious and shameful act.