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Suicide scourge and economic adversity

Suicide scourge and economic adversity
November 02
20:46 2021


It was Adebola B. Ekanola, a specialist in African philosophy and philosophy of Peace, who, while writing on the topic; Towards an enduring social peace in a violence-ridden society: From a culture of war and violence to a culture of peace and non-violence, stated that a good starting point for the process of peace education would be an analysis and clarification of some of the key concepts and principles like ‘peace’, ‘violence’, ‘justice’ and ‘non-violence’.

As concepts and principles relevant to social peace are analyzed, consistent effort, he advised, must be made to propagate what they stand for across the different levels of the society with a view to getting people to accept them and also desire to work towards the attainment of appropriate social institutions and social conditions.

Indeed, the above proposition came flooding a few days ago, following two separate but related events.


First is the reported suicide by former Niger Delta militant, Friday Igbegbe, who allegedly took his own life on Saturday night at Ogbe-Ijoh, headquarters of Warri south-west local government area of Delta state, through a yet-to-be-ascertained means, after a long battle with depression, leaving behind about 36 children and many ‘wives’. The second is a reported comment by Dr Titilayo Tade, the deputy director of medical social services at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and training coordinator at Suicide Research Prevention Initiative (SUPRIN), which centered on rising and incessant suicide cases in Nigeria

Tade in a media report stated that the suicide rate in Nigeria in 2019 is 6.9/100,000, which is higher than the 6.5 rate in 2012; but under-reported or miscoded. Tade said the reason was that suicide is still a criminal offence, with the shortage of mental health care personnel, cultural and religious beliefs about mental health and suicide stigma. Tade disclosed this while speaking on the topic: ‘Suicide Prevention as a Pathway to Hope: The SUPRIN experience’, at the maiden Vanguard Health Summit with the Theme: ‘Mobilising for Systematic Change and Better Mental Health Care in Nigeria’.

She added that 7.2 percent of cases referred to psychiatrist services in LUTH were cases related to suicide. Speaking about the number of suicide deaths, Tade said: “The number of suicide deaths reported as at 2019 is 7,019, according to World Health Organisation, WHO— 5,110 males and 1,909 females — over five years study period at LUTH”.


Essentially, the above raises not just the imperativeness of finding the courage to provide answers to this grave problem by the government- via the development of collaborative and systematic redesigning of our nation’s economy but exposes the consequence of our past failures, which have erupted in the present uncontrolled experiment with attendant risks and indefinite outcome.

As to the cause of the appalling situation, I may not speak in concrete terms but I know that close to the entrenched distrust of the political leadership, which characterizes our sphere, is the national vexation by the people who once lived in comfort and loved to stay alive, as life was never a burden.

But today, life in their estimation has become not only a burden but the shout of the ‘good old days’ now rends the nations’ wavelength with the cost of living comparatively high and national security now a problem. Our value system which used to be sound is gradually been eroded and people no longer have value for hard work and honesty

The country is currently the direct opposite of what it used to be. To further put issues where they belong; suicide, which is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death is committed primarily as a means for escaping pain or suffering. At times, it involves intentionally taking one’s life and that life of others for religious belief –is committed by any category of people-the student, professional, artisan, teenager, matured individuals, male, and females.


Hence, it is more important to identify the symptoms than mere attempt to be safe. Looking at commentaries, the heinous plan to commit suicide manifests through the following; depression, frequently talking about death, drastic but negative changes in mood and behaviour for example solitary behaviour, aggressiveness and irritations, unwarranted giving personal things away, and the making of personal funeral arrangements.

In concrete terms, suicide is triggered by issues such as stress, disappointment, low self-esteem, frustration, academic challenges, health challenges, stigmatization, sense of hopelessness or no hope for the future, lack of psycho-social support system, substance abuse which could be alcohol or drug, dying for a course which could be religious or family honour, bullying by friends and attention-seeking syndrome.

Among these causative factors, economic hardship occupies the driver’s position. As to what should be done, the important responsibility facing the Nigerian government should be the need to go beyond the call for the ban of Sniper, a poisonous insecticide, and other toxic substances or lethal objects that have been used for this deliberate self-harm which only relieves temporal distress but leaves the disease and its ravages unaffected and tackle the challenges discussed above beginning with the nation’s economy, which is currently in bad shape.

The federal and state governments must tackle the current economic adversity bedevilling the country; promote peace by transforming our current culture of war and violence into a culture of peace and non-violence.


Next to the government’s doubling of its effort to reduce the economic frustration in the country either through the creation of more jobs or a social scheme that will assist everyone who cannot afford to meet his or her needs with a monthly token as is done in some countries.

This present demand is to make the Nigerian entity and its integral parts, more resourceful, more acceptable, more creative, more functional and above all safer. Other steps that will provide a solution to this present challenge from what experts are saying include but are not limited to; learning to forgive yourself and others, paying attention to people around you, engaging in family re-orientation such as the promotion of our cultural values, sharing of a problem with people that can help out, seeking medical help after a trauma, people should be contented with what they have and must try as much as possible to live a stress-free life.


On their part, faith-based organizations and civil society groups as change agents should develop the people’s capacity to welcome new ideas, reject unwholesome behaviours that can endanger individual lives and that of the entire society. Why all must join hands to tackle this challenge is that suicide has a direct impact on the individual and ripple effects to both the family and the nation.

As an illustration, apart from the death of the individual involved, suicide brings trauma to the family members and visits both the family and the nation with economic loss and hardship on the victims dependent and society, Also feeling of guilt and embarrassment by the family member, loss of skilled manpower by the nation are but some of the negative effects.


As the commentary about suicide continues to pervade our political geography, it is important for all to again cast a glance at these frightening words from Dr Titilayo Tade. It reads: “Nigeria lacks fully developed comprehensive and integrated national suicide prevention.58 per cent of global suicides occurred before the age of 50 years and 88 percent of adolescents suicides occurred in low and middle-income countries. 77 percent of suicides occurred in low and middle-income countries in 2019 and men account for nearly three times the number of suicides than women”.

On global suicide prevention, she said: “Globally, only 38 countries are known to have fully developed national suicide prevention plan. As to the solution. Early identification, assessment management and follow-up of suicide behaviours and interacting with the media for responsible reporting of suicide, will also help in the reduction of suicide rates,” she concluded.


Utomi, the programme coordinator (media and public policy) at Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), wrote from Lagos. He could be reached via; [email protected] or 08032725374.

Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.


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