One of the rights of every individual that’s clearly stated in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is ‘right to life.’ But in recent time, the reverse seems to be the case as what people use to consider as an abomination to God and an evil spell upon the land has become a warm and cheerful reception for some people who think that’s the only way to end suffering and gain freedom.
Down the memory lane, history has it that, in the past most especially in the Eastern part of Nigeria, people who commit suicide for whatever reason are seen to be disgrace and misfortune to the land and as such, their bodies are being taken to the evil forest accompany with curses as punishment while spiritual cleansing and prayers are done for the relatives and the community where such individual resides.
This was done then due to the fact that no one has the power to give life and no one irrespective of any circumstance should take his/her life as it is seen to be an abomination to God which might incur god’s wrath not only to the family of the deceased but the entire society. This was what our forefathers believed and held firmly unto; this has not only benefited them but has also served as an encouragement to everyone that no matter the condition, God is the reason for living, therefore, life is worth living for.
But unfortunately, as the society began to expand and advance in science and technology, people are expose to series of blindfolded civilization which over the years has influenced and taken over the thoughts of many people, thereby making people to think that some actions that are problematic to the society are solutions. Nowadays, people now take their lives at will with the slogan “life is not worth living for” perhaps due to their present circumstance; forgetting that succeeding to survive among millions of spermatozoa and living to the point of conceiving such thought is a miracle to be celebrated and not to be abused.
Research has shown that the record of death rate as a result of suicide acts in Nigeria from 2015-2019 has increased by 14% and the major victims are youths within the age range of 18-37 years. This many people believed to be facilitated by taken deadly substances like pesticide (sniper and the likes), insecticide, drugs and hanging oneself. In relation to this act, it has been revealed that suicide acts are as a result of unemployment, depression, rejection, inability to cope in school which may lead to school dropout, family problems, marital issues, loneliness etc.
Having held series of interactions with people of different likes such as smokers, drunkards, cultists, drug addicts etc, I have discovered that people engage in some of these uncultured and immoral activities as ways of escaping and copying with the challenges of life which includes but not limited to unemployment, frustrations, depression, stress, family problems, marital problem etc.
Going further in my investigations, I also discovered that actually those uncultured and immoral practices at inception seems to be a solution but at the end create more problems in the life of a victim; thereby worsening the whole situation beyond bearable manner which makes victims to end up committing suicide which is an offence that is punishable under the law.
Nigerian government at all levels (local, state and federal) knowing explicitly well that one of the major functions of a responsible government is to protect the lives and properties of her citizens as enshrined in the constitution has not relented in finding solutions to stop or reduce the rate of suicide acts in Nigeria. This is seen in the fact that the government in her bid to perform the function of protecting the lives and properties of her citizens banned the sale of some of those deadly substances like sniper, which were not actually meant for human consumption but are being abused by humans as a way of taking their lives.It has also been observed in recent times that due to the high prevalence of suicide acts hovering round the society, the masses have started thinking twice as regards to the genuineness of some suicide cases as some hoodlums in the society have started hiding under the auspices of suicide acts to commit murder and tagging the death of their victims as suicide issues; this ugly situation sprang up as a result of the already existing suicide practices bedeviling the social status-quo of the society.
However, despite the effort of the government in curbing suicide acts, the rate of suicide especially among Nigerian youths seems to keep increasing not because the government is not trying but because the government has failed to carryout proper research in order to know the root cause of the problems prompting people to willingly take their lives and as such, they (the government) only made conclusions and took actions base on emotional feelings and not base on proper research; thereby, neglecting the vital issues which has resulted to elephant action but an ant result phenomenon.It becomes obvious that the sales of sniper and other deadly substances are not the true cause of suicide acts (they are just being abused) but the extent at which the mindset and thoughts of people (youths) are negatively influenced and affected daily due to the happenings in the environment and the series of unbearable issues, are the root cause of suicide acts.
Upon this, it becomes wise to say that suicide acts in Nigeria can only be tackled and reduced to zero level when the root causes such as unemployment, depression, frustration, family problems, marital issues and the likes are properly attended to and addressed accordingly. In relation to this, positive words and encouragement has high degree of influence over a frustrated fellow and as such, the government should not only consider the physical remedies but should also organize and establish different functioning platforms and seminars where life transforming programmes and tension relieving topics are discussed which to some extent will convince and make people see reasons why they should live.
In addition, as patriotic citizens, different humanitarian groups such as Amnesty International, Living Hope Organization, Murtala Mohammed Foundation, ActionAid International Nigeria, All Nigeria United Nations Students’ & Youth Association, Movement For Youth Actualization International, World Scholarship and Career Helpers, Guidance Community Development Foundation, Khalid Foundation, Asuku Foundation, UNICEF and the likes, should see suicide issues as an opportunity to reach the hopeless and those who think they are being rejected and put a smile on their faces. This will not only save the lives of the individuals but will also save the future of the society; as it is believed that “society only exists when human beings are available.”
Furthermore, churches, mosques, companies and institutions of different kinds should see the increase of suicide acts in Nigeria as a problem and a way of carrying out their social responsibilities to their host communities and Nigeria as a whole; programmes against the promotion of suicide acts should be preached and accompanied with free will packages; as gifts is one of the fastest ways of winning the heart of people. This will not only increase their social credit but will also increase the socio-economic, cultural and political status quo of the nations; thereby driving Nigeria as a country to her dream land.
In conclusion, the media is seen as an agent of change and a powerful instrument of hope which can be used to decide the fate and future of a people through their agenda setting and social responsibility functions; base on this, the media of all kinds should endavour to join hands with the government to always package and air effective programmes against the practice of suicide acts and ensure that the people are persuaded and convinced that surely there is an end to every ugly situation and the expectations of the citizens shall not be cut off. Therefore, the people should always live to learn and learn to live.
– Onipe Ozovehe Moses writes from Kogi State.