By Constance Meju
Within weeks of eachother, no less than eight young men and women have died by suicide.
First, a young man inPort Harcourt killed himself because his girlfriend abandoned him. He was inhis 20s, living in the D-Line area of the city; a handsome graduate with thepossibility of better life prospects coming his way had he lived. But he losthope over his lost girlfriend and chose to end it all with some bottles ofpoisonous substance, Snipper now trendy for human deletion.
In the South Westanother suicide candidate, a young female hairdresser committed suicide becauseher boyfriend deserted her. Then it was time for the University of PortHarcourt to take the limelight. What was the news? Promising daughter of aformer deputy governor in one of the South West states treated herself to astiff dosage of the infamous snipper and travelled to the great beyond. She wasalso reacting from abandonment from a young medical doctor in the university’shospital who did not tell her he was married until she found herself pregnant.
The girl was said to becomfortable, beautiful and already a class rep. So there was hope for her.
As if that was not enough, just as the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board, JAMB released result of its 2019 examination a young man of 22 years took his life because he scored 167 out of 400 marks.
The death roll hassince increased. Another handsome young man took his life still by snipper,because his girlfriend has stopped visiting and another young handsome youngmantook his life the cool way, y jumping into the water in Amassoma, Bayelsa Statefor failing the Wilberforce University Medical School MBB examination.
There are threats ofmore suicide attempts as in Uyo, according to Facebook report, a young lady whoattempted to take her life was saved by the quick action of neighbours andrelatives who rushed her to the hospital.
All the above victimscannot e classified among the ‘Buhari Lazy youths’. They are all busy peoplewho ordinarily, should have been care-freely pursuing routes to theirGod-designed purpose on earth. But something seems to have gone wrong in thesystem, very very wrong.
There is despondency, ageneral feeling of hopelessness and fear arising from the state of the NigerianNation-a nation hanging in the balance. People are busy trying to survive, tokeep body and soul together pursued furiously by hunger and insecurity whileits overwhelmed leadership looks on, too confused to halt the menace. Nobodythus have enough time to check out a depressed brother, sister or child.
The once nation ofhappy people has turned into one of the most miserable nations of the world;this in addition to becoming the world’s poverty capital.
Nigeria has been ratedthe 5th country on the annual global suicide list. On July 29, 2018,Spectator Index published a World Health Organisation research that rankedsuicide per 100,000 per country and Nigeria placed fifth with 15,000 cases per100,000 persons. South Korea topped the list with 24,000, Russia, 18,000, India16,000, Japan 15,400. Saudi Arabia placed 17th with 3,900 incidentsper 100,000.
In the early days ofthe Buhari administration, suicide incidents rose to an unprecedented level withpeople from every part of the country dying by hanging leaving notes blamingBuhari for their plight.
In Eleme, Rivers State, a man killed himself, three of his children and the wife is only alive today because she escaped by running away. However, many of those deaths involved matured adults but the new wave of suicides is threatening the strength of this country. The youths are the future generation, the hope for our tomorrow and these same future of Nigeria are opting for the easy way out of temporary pain-choosing death at a time their compatriots in other climes are breaking new grounds and trying to shift the power base via technology.
Their frame of mind isindicative of a troubled country. The Nigerian youth is a vital component ofour society but only remembered by the leaders and policy makers for mischiefduring elections. Youths account for about 40 million of the Nigerianpopulation and have a voting strength of 51 per cent, which makes them anindispensable portion of our country.
Ordinarily, theirpopulation size and importance as our successors ought to inform policyplanning and decisions but in Nigeria, the youth are so oppressed that youthleaders are as old as 60 and above, meaning the real youths (30-45) have norepresentation in governance, nobody to capture their fears, hopes andaspirations before those charged with the responsibility of deciding whatshould be.
The result, they areholed-in. No one to complain to, no one to ask for their rights, foradvice-just abandoned while those who should put up structures to help makethem self-assured, self-reliant and useful, junket all over the world withresources meant for development seeking where and what to lavish the loot on.
Bowing to suicide is asign of deep depression, a long-term state of unhappiness resulting also from alow or shattered self-esteem. A confident man or woman, boy or girl, knows thatbeing ditched by one partner may be painful but may be a sign that therelationship was not ordained from above and so, opens up opportunity for abetter and lasting future partner. Many couples today will tell you theirpartners were not their first loves.
Where if I may ask, arethe counseling centers for sex education, healthy relationship matters forthese young ones going through generational changes? What do school counselorsdo beyond advising on subject combination? Who is smoothening the painfulpassage, allaying the fears of this generation of youths? We have no structuresor packages be it at federal, state, local government or community level toguard our youth neither do we have jobs for those who need them. We have leftthem vulnerable, so vulnerable the devil has jumped into the driving seat,gladly grabbing the weak hearted along to self-destruction. How do we expect tocreate sound citizens without mentoring in a country where atrocity is theorder of the day?
Even the family,Africa’s greatest fall-back in times of trouble is no more. The communities areseeking shelter, scattered in the cities and neighbouring towns as banditsplunder, while everybody is fending for his/herself with no room for theextended family cushion that has helped even when parents failed. The tragedyof the nation lies in the fact that these premature deaths are not excusable.There was no reason for them to die because they had bright futures ahead ofthem but we failed to notice their silent cries and thus were unable to savethem. A little care, a touch of attention, might have opened the needed flow ofcries to release them from the bondage of anguish and despair that led to theirdeath.
For the JAMBite and MBBstudent, all that was needed were assurances of a better tomorrow. Many achievesuccess after many trials, as Buhari as well as the understanding that you arenot living to please others but yourself. They are many avenues to a career andother schools are out there to help you achieve your aim if need be. Theimportant thing to note is that greatness comes from being able to dust oneselfand stand tall after a fall not giving in to pity or grief.
This is a clarion callto parents to sit back and begin to understand their children. The challengesare much today- insecurity at home, school, the church, everywhere-chat, chat upyour children and empathize with them, allay their fears and guide them withlove. Money is not love; show care.
It is also time ourgovernment re-examines its youth policies- it must mainstream youth into allpolicies and bring them on board to begin to learn to solve problems; createavenues for their deep engagements rather than keeping them aside for armscarrying during elections while your children study in serene andtechnologically advanced environment to come back to preserved jobs. You cannotabandon them and express surprise when they go down or expect them tounderstand untaught, how to withstand the challenges of life. It is the duty ofgovernment and society to train, nurture and equip the youth so they will bestrong enough to be there to take over when we leave the stage. Failing to dothis is invitation to more catastrophe than we are witnessing.
It is also necessaryhere to advocate for research into these suicides as that might expose morerooted causes to us and direct us to better strategies for addressing thescourge. In the meantime, non-governmental organizations can help out by mountingrigorous campaigns against suicides and help build up youth self-esteemobviously at a very low level presently.
Security agencies canalso help by working in accordance with the ethics of respect for human rightsas proclaimed by the new acting inspector general of police. That meansarresting only real suspects not clamping innocent youths in detention just toraise money or indiscriminately abusing youths especially students or perceivedpoor ones. All these irritating habits fuel suicidal thoughts. Let’s rise tosave our future!
#Genderand Transparency Project (GAP)
ConstanceMeju is publisher of Port Harcourt based National Point Newspaper and Genderand Human Right Justice advocate