Editorial: Nigeria’s spate of suicide and value erosion
The nauseating spate of suicide in Nigeria in recent times is the latest narrative that has found its way into national discourses in the most populous black nation on earth. As strange as the heinous development can be, the vermin seems to have burrowed deep into the fabrics of the existence of a people who were once rated as the happiest people on earth as reported by the BBC on Thursday 2nd October 2003
From the Ivory Towers to the revered religious enclaves, from the rural communities to the urban centres, the avalanche is reported to have spared neither class nor any stratum of the nation. Several years ago when pockets of such occurred, it used to be described in metaphysical terms and some Nigerian communities forbade anyone touching the remains of such suicide victims. In fact; many corpses arising from the unusual incidents ended up in what they termed “the evil forest, a no go area for mere mortals. It was that serious and such situations were treated with the extremism desired.
Why Nigeria is now racing for reckoning in the global suicide index leaves much to be desired and how the unusual suddenly became a commonplace remains a puzzle that has left even the wise in the land perplexed. Many have asked what has become of a people who were touted to have loved life more than any race on earth and in actual fact, what has happened to the communal spirit which was a cohesive force that bound the people together.
The communality of Nigerians and by extension Africans had been an age-long tradition where every man is his brother’s keeper. This explains why people went knocking on the doors of their nieghbours to check on them almost on a daily basis to see how they were faring. In the spirit of camaraderie, brothers and neighbours were readily available to listen to one another’s problems and be one another’s burden bearers. It was all about loving ones neighbour as oneself and selflessness was the watchword.
But today, it is a different ball game. Individualism has fast replaced communalism and love for one another has been substituted with love for oneself without minding what becomes of the next person. The time that people used to share together as friends and families has now been occupied by the social media, mobile games, movies and some other self indulging practices.
The political class is not helping the situation either. Many at times, greed, corruption policy somersaults, cluelessness in governance and micro-management of the socio-political and economic sectors often lead to recession, which in turn forces the people into depression; some of whom eventually become suicide victims.
Parents and teachers as well as religious and community leaders cannot play the ostrich either; every one must come to terms with the fact that one form of neglect or the other had and can still result in suicide. Research has also shown that health, environmental and historical factors can be responsible for suicides. Adequate knowledge and awareness in this direction will in no small measure arrest the scourge.
The need to revive the communal spirit that defined a typical African setting cannot be underestimated. Government must as a matter of urgency show leadership in changing the socio-political and economic landscape to the admiration of the populace. Basic infrastructure such as affordable and adequate healthcare is essential, especially for those suffering from mental sicknesses. The nation as a matter of urgency must also tackle the rate of ugly developments that have reduced the lives of the citizens to nothing as a result of senseless killings. Life is sacred from conception and must be seen as such by all.
Parents and teachers must rise up to the occasion in the care of their children and wards; the young ones need to be properly exposed to the importance and limits of their pursuits at different stages in life and must know where to draw the line in all endeavours.
Religious bodies on their part need to be more involved in the welfare of members. Contents flowing from preachers should be seasoned with grace and their posture and comportment devoid of flamboyance.
On the whole, everyone needs to know that no matter what, nothing in life is worth the life of anyone. These factors are germane if indeed the nation is serious about reversing the ugly trend of suicide. Who knows? Nigeria can still reclaim her prideful place as the nation with the happiest people on the terrestrial board.