Life is no doubt full of ups and downs and a typical example of “the downs” is the current state of the Nigerian economy. It is no longer news that the country is going through some rough times as was revealed by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, which showed that in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2016, Nigeria’s economy contracted by 2.06 percent.The second quarter report makes Nigeria’s economy the worst in three decades, consequently, the Federal Government on August 31, 2016 officially confirmed that the Nigerian economy is in recession!!!
The economic recession which led to various government policies and programs; high cost of living, inflation, unemployment appears to have stressed Nigerians to a breaking point , consequently stimulating an exponential increase in the rate of suicide cases in the country. In 2016, Ogun, Lagos, Ebonyi, Oyo, Ondo, Kano, Delta recorded over 62 cases of suicide according to statistics from the various police commands.
We recall that Nigerians were once declared as the happiest people in the world. However, the United Nation’s 2016 World Happiness Report showed that Nigeria dropped from its 78th position to rank 103 out of 157 countries in the World and 6th in Africa.
According to WHO Over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year and there estimated 10 to 20 million attempted suicides every year. It was reported that not less than a million people die annually from suicide. This represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds.
HARVEST OF SUICIDE
Until most recently, suicide, the act of intentionally causing one’s own death, was a rare phenomenon in Nigeria, few and far between. Culturally, it is abominable and the stigma can haunt the family of the victim for generations. In addition, almost all religions abhor suicide just as it is illegal for one to end one’s life. Legal experts consider it a felonious act, that is, if the attempt fails. However, Psychologists have stated that Depression is considered the most common reason people commit suicide These include the psychological, health and economic issues; read here. Even religious fanaticism can lead to suicide. Examples abound such as the modern day Jihadists who kill themselves in the hope of a reward in Heaven.
From hanging self to jumping into the lagoon, or through the intake of dangerous poison and deadly substances,the rate at which Nigerians now join this global craze of taking their own lives is extremely terrifying and have become a definite cause for alarm!!!
GOVERNMENT: In my view, our government, at all levels, must address and find an urgent way to curb this abominable act. Effective and evidence-based interventions can be implemented at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts.
A massive public awareness on mental health in the country must be created. The roles of clinical psychologists or psychiatrists in curbing mental health disorders especially depression must be emphasized and Nigerians must be encouraged to visit them for professional help.
Furthermore, government must take its responsibilities in making life easier for people seriously especially in the areas of job creation, education, healthcare, feeding as well as encouraging the revival and strengthening of social welfare office.
NIGERIANS (Individuals, Parents, Friends, Family Member etc): In Nigeria, when people threaten suicide, they are often ridiculed and derided. We must all learn to identify various warning signs and taking adequate and quick measures in addressing any suicidal symptoms. In addition, We must learn to be empathetic towards one another, increase our “brotherly love” and encourage people to speak out about their issues and show concern.
Parents and family members are also advised to avoid putting undue pressures on their children on any issue.
RELIGIOUS LEADERS: The truth is that in the past, religious leaders were known for abstinence and near asceticism not for the display of wealth but nowadays, “crass materialism” and the display of ostentatious wealth has taken over in most religious houses and leaders in the country and this has put a lot of pressure on individuals. Many religious leaders now say categorically that if you are poor, you need to check your faith!
Our religious leaders need to start asking themselves hard questions like: “Are we really delivering the message of God or have we replaced it? Are we giving hope or are we killing it? Are we models of righteousness and piety or symbols of crass materialism?
The role of religion is to give hope; to fill a vacuum in the lives of adherents in the face of hopelessness. This is why the scripture is filled with stories of transformation; grass to grace, powerlessness to influence, hopelessness to achievement. Our religious leaders must continue to preach the significance of patience and perseverance in life, with teachings and examples of prophets and other virtuous men of God in the Holy books, not only in churches and mosques, but at every forum.
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