What we must do to reduce suicide among the youths
It is no longer a mystery that Nigerians are becoming more complex and highly unpredictable to manage and understand. In the words of Chinua Achebe: “things have fallen apart, the centre cannot hold”. Things are indeed hard and in bad shape for many Nigerians. There is no Nigerian that is free from any personal or family challenge. The only thing that differs is our level of perseverance and tolerance. For some, they have cautiously developed or perfected mechanisms of coping, adapting and enduring many of their life long challenges. For many others, such mechanisms are yet to be put in place, hence the frustration and rejection they face daily.
The rate of suicide, especially among the Nigerian youths is taking a new dimension and pattern. It is not completely out of place to say that tough times and soft minded people don’t last. Nigerian youths now take kill themselves without thinking about the effects of their selfish act on those who truly love them unconditionally and naturally but may be helpless as far as finding solutions to whatever their travails may look like. . The factors fuelling this barbaric and brutish act are multi-dimensional and inter related. For instance, constant failure to achieve set goals or fulfill certain obligations may instigate suicidal thought. Hopelessness and depression have equally been identified as the major cause of this monster killing our youths for us. As earlier posited, the causes of suicide are varied and the solution to it must also be holistic and comprehensive.
Therefore, before suicide festers beyond our control or become acceptable as a norm among the Nigerian youths, some measures need to be taken as quick as possible. Nigeria cannot afford to gloss over this recurring decimal among the people. Parents, elders and leaders of thought and conscience must rise to protect the young ones from seeing suicide as a good escape route from their daily challenges. In the last few weeks, the nation had lost quite a number of her vibrant future leaders to the cold hands of death caused by this ungodly suicidal mission. The next victim could be anybody. This is the reason we must all swing into actions by taking some concrete steps aimed at minimizing or eradicating this devilish thought from the minds of our younger ones.
Firstly, it is time to make it compulsory for all our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions to establish a functional and operational guidance and counseling unit. This unit must be handled strictly and only by competent and trained counselors and psychologists. At regular intervals, our pupils must be taken through some courses and lectures on achieving academic excellence, self-esteem amongst other useful and beneficial discussions. Workshops and seminars may equally be organized by the various institutions to remain focused in spite of whatever life may throw at them challenges.
Secondly, Nigeria has come of age to have well equipped life coaching clinics in all her 774 local government areas. These clinics must be accessible and opened to the general public for use. People must also be encouraged to use these facilities when necessary to equip them with all the social and psychological supports.
Thirdly, suicide and poverty closely related and intertwined. Thus, government at all levels must come to the rescue of Nigerians at large by providing them with conducive environment and different social welfare packages as stipulated in the constitution. Every Nigerian deserves a reasonable standard of living. One cannot therefore completely rule out the devastating effects of hunger, unemployment, unaffordability of medical services and inadequate housing facilities on the lives of Nigerians. These highlighted challenges are to a large extent responsible for some of the suicide cases.
Fourthly, strict laws need to be enacted to guide against any form of abuse, discrimination and stigmatization in our society. Unwarranted mockery of people under whatever guise must be frowned at and punished accordingly. Be it on the basis of sex, religion, tribe/region and physical appearance the Nigerian society must ensure that no one is unjustly and unduly vilified, humiliated and stigmatized. The right of all the citizens must be guaranteed. Those found guilty of abusing the right of others must be thoroughly and properly dealt with according to the law of the country.
Fifthly, parents and religious equally have major roles to play. There is gain saying denying the fact that there is high level of moral decadence in the society today. Positive values (for examples hard work, perseverance, piety and commitment) all seem to have taken the back seat in the country. Patience has been thrown into the wind. This mentality of becoming rich by all means within a short time in order to live a stupendous and lavish lifestyle has affected the psyche of everybody. Unhealthy competition, greed and self-centeredness have turned our society into something undeserving. Parents and religious leaders must realize that they owe the Nigerian society this onerous task of rejuvenating our lost positive values.
In conclusion, suicide is real. We cannot sit on the fence. Blame game would not help either. Rather than waiting for the next one to happen and we all begin to pour in our condolence messages, let us take proactive. We must also remember that no help is too small or big to save any life.
Shamsudeen Ayeni, wrote this piece from Akute, Ogun State