Addressing the Frightening Suicide Wave Among Our Youth

By Constance Meju Within weeks of each other, no less than eight young men and women have died by suicide. First, a young man in Port Harcourt

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By Constance Meju

Within weeks of each other, no less than eight young men and women have died by suicide.

First, a young man in Port Harcourt killed himself because his girlfriend abandoned him. He was in his 20s, living in the D-Line area of the city; a handsome graduate with the possibility of better life prospects coming his way had he lived. But he lost hope over his lost girlfriend and chose to end it all with some bottles of poisonous substance, Snipper now trendy for human deletion.

In the South West another suicide candidate, a young female hairdresser committed suicide because her boyfriend deserted her. Then it was time for the University of Port Harcourt to take the limelight. What was the news? Promising daughter of a former deputy governor in one of the South West states treated herself to a stiff dosage of the infamous snipper and travelled to the great beyond. She was also reacting from abandonment from a young medical doctor in the university’s hospital who did not tell her he was married until she found herself pregnant.

The girl was said to be comfortable, beautiful and already a class rep. So there was hope for her.

As if that was not enough, just as the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board, JAMB released result of its 2019 examination a young man of 22 years took his life because he scored 167 out of 400 marks.

The death roll has since increased. Another handsome young man took his life still by snipper, because his girlfriend has stopped visiting and another young handsome youngman took his life the cool way, y jumping into the water in Amassoma, Bayelsa State for failing the Wilberforce University Medical School MBB examination.

There are threats of more suicide attempts as in Uyo, according to Facebook report, a young lady who attempted to take her life was saved by the quick action of neighbours and relatives who rushed her to the hospital.

All the above victims cannot e classified among the ‘Buhari Lazy youths’. They are all busy people who ordinarily, should have been care-freely pursuing routes to their God-designed purpose on earth. But something seems to have gone wrong in the system, very very wrong.

There is despondency, a general feeling of hopelessness and fear arising from the state of the Nigerian Nation-a nation hanging in the balance. People are busy trying to survive, to keep body and soul together pursued furiously by hunger and insecurity while its overwhelmed leadership looks on, too confused to halt the menace. Nobody thus have enough time to check out a depressed brother, sister or child.

The once nation of happy people has turned into one of the most miserable nations of the world; this in addition to becoming the world’s poverty capital.

Nigeria has been rated the 5th country on the annual global suicide list. On July 29, 2018, Spectator Index published a World Health Organisation research that ranked suicide per 100,000 per country and Nigeria placed fifth with 15,000 cases per 100,000 persons. South Korea topped the list with 24,000, Russia, 18,000, India 16,000, Japan 15,400. Saudi Arabia placed 17th with 3,900 incidents per 100,000.

In the early days of the Buhari administration, suicide incidents rose to an unprecedented level with people from every part of the country dying by hanging leaving notes blaming Buhari for their plight.

In Eleme, Rivers State, a man killed himself, three of his children and the wife is only alive today because she escaped by running away. However, many of those deaths involved matured adults but the new wave of suicides is threatening the strength of this country. The youths are the future generation, the hope for our tomorrow and these same future of Nigeria are opting for the easy way out of temporary pain-choosing death at a time their compatriots in other climes are breaking new grounds and trying to shift the power base via technology.

Their frame of mind is indicative of a troubled country. The Nigerian youth is a vital component of our society but only remembered by the leaders and policy makers for mischief during elections. Youths account for about 40 million of the Nigerian population and have a voting strength of 51 per cent, which makes them an indispensable portion of our country.

Ordinarily, their population size and importance as our successors ought to inform policy planning and decisions but in Nigeria, the youth are so oppressed that youth leaders are as old as 60 and above, meaning the real youths (30-45) have no representation in governance, nobody to capture their fears, hopes and aspirations before those charged with the responsibility of deciding what should be.

The result, they are holed-in. No one to complain to, no one to ask for their rights, for advice-just abandoned while those who should put up structures to help make them self-assured, self-reliant and useful, junket all over the world with resources meant for development seeking where and what to lavish the loot on.

Bowing to suicide is a sign of deep depression, a long-term state of unhappiness resulting also from a low or shattered self-esteem. A confident man or woman, boy or girl, knows that being ditched by one partner may be painful but may be a sign that the relationship was not ordained from above and so, opens up opportunity for a better and lasting future partner. Many couples today will tell you their partners were not their first loves.

Where if I may ask, are the counseling centers for sex education, healthy relationship matters for these young ones going through generational changes? What do school counselors do beyond advising on subject combination? Who is smoothening the painful passage, allaying the fears of this generation of youths? We have no structures or packages be it at federal, state, local government or community level to guard our youth neither do we have jobs for those who need them. We have left them vulnerable, so vulnerable the devil has jumped into the driving seat, gladly grabbing the weak hearted along to self-destruction. How do we expect to create sound citizens without mentoring in a country where atrocity is the order of the day?

Even the family, Africa’s greatest fall-back in times of trouble is no more. The communities are seeking shelter, scattered in the cities and neighbouring towns as bandits plunder, while everybody is fending for his/herself with no room for the extended family cushion that has helped even when parents failed. The tragedy of the nation lies in the fact that these premature deaths are not excusable. There was no reason for them to die because they had bright futures ahead of them but we failed to notice their silent cries and thus were unable to save them. A little care, a touch of attention, might have opened the needed flow of cries to release them from the bondage of anguish and despair that led to their death.

For the JAMBite and MBB student, all that was needed were assurances of a better tomorrow. Many achieve success after many trials, as Buhari as well as the understanding that you are not living to please others but yourself. They are many avenues to a career and other schools are out there to help you achieve your aim if need be. The important thing to note is that greatness comes from being able to dust oneself and stand tall after a fall not giving in to pity or grief.

This is a clarion call to parents to sit back and begin to understand their children. The challenges are much today- insecurity at home, school, the church, everywhere-chat, chat up your children and empathize with them, allay their fears and guide them with love. Money is not love; show care.

It is also time our government re-examines its youth policies- it must mainstream youth into all policies and bring them on board to begin to learn to solve problems; create avenues for their deep engagements rather than keeping them aside for arms carrying during elections while your children study in serene and technologically advanced environment to come back to preserved jobs. You cannot abandon them and express surprise when they go down or expect them to understand untaught, how to withstand the challenges of life. It is the duty of government and society to train, nurture and equip the youth so they will be strong enough to be there to take over when we leave the stage. Failing to do this is invitation to more catastrophe than we are witnessing.

It is also necessary here to advocate for research into these suicides as that might expose more rooted causes to us and direct us to better strategies for addressing the scourge. In the meantime, non-governmental organizations can help out by mounting rigorous campaigns against suicides and help build up youth self-esteem obviously at a very low level presently.

Security agencies can also help by working in accordance with the ethics of respect for human rights as proclaimed by the new acting inspector general of police. That means arresting only real suspects not clamping innocent youths in detention just to raise money or indiscriminately abusing youths especially students or perceived poor ones. All these irritating habits fuel suicidal thoughts. Let’s rise to save our future!

#Gender and Transparency Project (GAP)


#Halt the Suicide

Constance Meju is publisher of Port Harcourt based National Point Newspaper and Gender and Human Right Justice advocate