The rate at which many Nigerians are resorting to taking their own lives is appalling and utterly worrisome. Just as if the nation has suddenly entered the Era of suicide, news-making bold headlines in recent times is that of people who have hanged themselves, some leaving suicide notes behind while some never felt any compulsion for such.
While many adopt the old style of hanging themselves with their bodies dangling from the ceilings, a novel method of drinking some pest control liquid substance called sniper is fast gaining ground. The preponderance of such sad episodes in the nation’s history raises a lot of questions because before now, the popular belief was that the average Nigerian loves life and is never ready to die.
Such belief is advanced as the main reason why the people have never been known to be courageous enough to challenge successive bad governance to which they have been subjected since independence. So to a school of thought, the fact that Nigerians continue to tolerate whatever humiliation they face is a clear indication that they prefer suffering under whatever bad leader to putting up a protest that may lead to some forms of punishment or even death.
But the new trend where suicide seems to be in vogue tends to debunk the old thinking and shows more and more that many people may no longer consider the world as a place to stay by all means. Many are ready to die at the slightest provocation or because of problems that ordinarily are not known to defy solutions.
Indeed the world is passing through a phase that is quite difficult to understand. Many are losing interest in confiding in other people maybe because of the disappointment they had experienced and felt that there was nobody else to trust. Another problem is absence of people who are genuinely ready to offer some form of assistance to those in dire need of help. The usual belief by most people that rendering help can backfire or boomerang has led to a situation where people see their neighbors in deep suffering and simply look the other way.
The first response to suicide will always be that it is a result of bad governance and the harsh economic downturn the effects of which are being felt by everybody but mostly the poor. But if some of the reasons given in some of the suicide notes are anything to go by, then there appears to be more than meets the eye. How for instance does one explain a situation where someone decides to kill himself or herself just because of being jilted by an erstwhile lover? Or someone having a carryover in one of her courses in the university and then feels the next action to take is to end it all? Well, maybe it is difficult to exonerate the present-day government from the total loss of hope resulting in many people taking shocking decisions. Gone are the days when governance was about bringing happiness to the greatest number of people. Everything now revolves around those in government and their cronies while others are simply on their own.
Another tragedy that has hit Nigeria is that succour no longer exists in religious houses. Indeed in the modern age in Nigeria, all the religious or places of worship tend to do is promote fraud by honoring only the rich while ignoring the plight of the poor in their midst.
In the past, the popular injunction of being one’s brother’s keeper was upheld by worshippers and most of the well to do within the fold readily lent a helping hand to the needy. In modern times, the mad rush for wealth has overtaken every aspect of the houses of God. While even poor worshippers are continually cajoled into parting with whatever they have, there is usually little or no response whenever any of the poor members have any challenges. Again, most of the sermons often center around posterity which continually sends wrong signals to the youth many who are made to believe that not being rich at a certain age is a curse.
Worst still, no encouragement is coming from entertainment either. Sports, when provided some forms of hope for the youth, is not given the attention it deserves in the country. In the absence of local tournaments, sports lovers then pitch their tent with various foreign teams. The fanaticism that attends support for foreign teams has led to the death of some fans. Youth who follow all foreign matches and players readily know the worth of each player and the best paying teams. Being aware of how much footballers who are their age mates make weekly sometimes push some youth either into crimes or depression. To add insult to injury, all the lyrics of modern music are all about wealth and luxury.
In the past, there were artists who through their music cautioned the people about life and the need to keep hope alive no matter the circumstances under which one found himself. But with the absence of such encouragement through music, the downtrodden no longer have anywhere to turn and the next option for some is to decide to end it all.
By Jide Oyewusi