By Uche Amunike
I find it really scary that suicide has suddenly become a very common phenomenon in our dear country. I mean, it is so unfair that in spite of the numerous problems we face in our daily existence, suicide has to be added to the list. Suicide used to be seen in movies. It wasn't even something that was regularly seen in movies, come to think of it. Things like cultism, Occultism, prostitution, delinquent tendencies in youths and even robbery are more often than not acted in most movies, more than Suicidal deaths. It wasn't even something that happened regularly. Maybe once in a while, we get to hear of one person who hung himself inside his bedroom and then, neighbours discover him and raise alarm and it gets in the news, but after a while, it fizzles out and that's it for a very long time. I remember last year, a woman was found hanging from a rope tied to her ceiling fan in her bedroom. Then, a man suspected to be a mad man was also found hanging from a tree somewhere close to Udoka Estate, also here in Awka. Then, another young man was found hanging from a rope also tied to his ceiling fan in his living room. This time, a note was found written by him and saying that he was pushed to commit suicide because his wife and mother-in-law frustrated him to depression. At least he left a note which made it easier for his family to ascertain his reason for taking his own life.
Then, `we found ourselves in what seemed like a phase of deaths in the city of Lagos, of people drowning themselves in the Lagoon intentionally. There was this case of the very beautiful woman who jumped into the Lagoon because her nude pictures taken with her lover went viral on social media and because she couldn't face the shame, she drove straight to the Lagoon and parked her car on top of the bridge and took a dive into the dirty, deep, toxic waters that drowned her. It's been a while so I do not remember if it was her lover that posted those pictures or if it was someone else. Truth is, she didn't know how to face her husband, children and indeed, the stigmatization that society would definitely mete out to her. She therefore decided to take her own life so horrifically and ended it all. Just about that same time, a young doctor also ended his life by jumping into the same lagoon. There were quite some more cases of the lagoon suicidal deaths, but I'll just stop at these two.
Well, it's happening again. Suicidal deaths have repeatedly been reported in the past one month, back to back. This time, a young final year student of the English Department of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Chukwuemeka Akachi took his own life by taking two bottles of the very poisonous Sniper meant for killing reptiles and household pests alike. You know, each time I remember how potent that substance is, I shudder as I try to imagine how in the world he was able to ingest not one bottle of that substance but two!!! He was definitely determined to end it all. He was hell bent on sending himself to the great beyond. He was determined to put an end to whatever misery and frustration he was struggling with. He was in a hurry to see that by the time anyone found his body, he would have been cold with no more breath in him. That was why he left his room or classroom or anywhere that people would find his body easily and perhaps save him but rather, went to an isolated monumental building known as the Tower and killed himself. Nobody would have thought of him being there. He figured that before people would think of finding him there, he would have passed on. Of course he succeeded because before long, after his body was found with the empty sniper bottles, he was almost dead and in spite of the oxygen that was used to see if he could be revived, he gave up. Sad! Truly sad!
After Akachi took his life, a woman was said to have committed suicide as well by drinking bleach which led to her death. I'm not sure what her reason was but I understood it was something concerning her discovery that her husband was having an extra marital affair. Shortly after, a pastor of the Redeemed Church took his life because of accommodation related problems. A 300 level undergraduate of Delta state University also reportedly committed suicide just because he failed his exams. It just got crazier and crazier. I still won't stop asking the question, 'where do they get the courage to end their own lives'?
I think it takes a lot of courage for anyone to take their own life. It cannot be easy. That is why I disagree with people who say that it is only weaklings and cowards that resort to suicide. It isn't true. It is difficult because the person must have fought with his conscience for a long time, knowing that his relatives would go through untold trauma. It is not easy to leave loved ones behind. It is not easy to leave behind great colleagues, a home one has built over the years, helpless children, investments and worse still, having that knowledge that their final destination would definitely be the dreaded hell fire! I also know that one truth about suicide is that the victim has this overwhelming feeling that there was no other way to end his misery or depression except by taking his life.
So, it always all boils down to depression. Akachi and all the aforementioned suicidal victims were certainly depressed. They must have looked for ways to let out their emotions to people around them in order to get help but most times, they are not understood. Akachi really made efforts from all I saw on his Facebook wall. His poems were sad underlying meanings that would have been a clue to his suicidal intention. However, it seemed like the more he tried reaching out to people around him, the weirder he seemed to them, judging from the kind of his writings, poems and even drawings. I took a good look at his profile picture which was really pretty scary and knew at once that his heart harboured so much pain, sorrow and darkness. He even went as far as telling someone about his previous suicide attempt and I'm sure he wanted an opportunity for him to pour his heart out but he was merely mocked by the person and that even threw him farther into his dark world. According to him, the person said that if he truly meant taking his life, he would have died. To someone who was depressed, that answer meant that he wasn't loved or wanted.
Depression is an illness. It is a medical disorder that causes persistent feeling of sadness and a loss of interest in everything. Its symptoms include sadness, anger, irritability, frustration, isolation, tiredness, and so on. Some of the things that can increase the chance of one being depressed include, abuse which could be physical, sexual and emotional. There is another problem of not being understood. I think it was one of the problems that affected the late Akachi. He was enstranged and was always in his own world. Like his closest friend, Ifeanyi Akpokpoke said, he always believed that nobody loved him, understood or accepted him. He also did not believe in anything. That in itself, was enough to make anyone sink into the deepest stages of depression.
That is where the issue of shrinks come in. This is where the issue of psychologists come in. This is where the issue of counsellors come in. Here in our dear country, so many people die as a result of depression. When young girls are raped, they fall into depression because they have nobody to confide in and get proper counseling. What about those diagnosed with the HIV virus? They become completely cut off from the world and from everything that is sane. Even their friends and family avoid them and will never do anything to make them feel loved or even accepted at all. They hardly get employed. They will sit in no place close to anyone in church or in the bus or train, unless the person isn't aware of their status. They are treated like outcasts even by their own immediate family members. This leads most of them to unavoidable depression which sometimes leads to suicidal thoughts. I could go on and on.
Psychologists, shrinks and counselors are equally as important as friends and family members of these suicidal victims. This is because they have a major role to play in the lives of depressed people. Depression is the major underlying cause of suicide. It is an indication that something is gravely wrong in a person's life. Suicide victims believe that committing suicide is the best way to escape unbearable suffering and these 'sufferings' are mostly related with social problems. We can do so much to aid in preventing suicidal acts by being good listeners when such people try to reach out to us. We can only recognize and understand the warning signs if we pay more attention and show more compassion. Most of them are crushed by the vicissitudes of life. We can however give them hope and show them acceptance as a panacea to this blood chilling menace. It truly needs to stop. I took a look at the late Akachi's profile picture on Facebook and it got me rattled. That, in itself was a very clear message. It was scary. Nobody took it seriously but he was trying to gain attention. Perhaps if anyone tried talking to him about it, he might have opened up. What about his dark poems and articles? They were equally eerie. Nobody bothered, or so he thought. In all fairness to his best friend who opened up about him and his lifestyle, some of them tried but Akachi believed that nobody liked or believed in him. So sad. I can only say a prayer for his soul. I hope he finds peace. Maybe, there might be something we do not understand about him or about life that God will understand and decide to grant him eternal rest. I also pray that God consoles his family. This must be very traumatic for them.
Akachi said something on his facebook page. I read it and found it so deep. It touched my very heart strings. He described himself as the water. That was the deepest thing I ever came across. He didn't drown, certainly because he believes his death will give him the freedom he needed. The things that drowned were rather, his pain, his emotions and his sad life. Go well, Akachi. May your parents not be scarred for life with the deep wound you inflicted in their lives. Jee nke oma!