Last week, a 23-year-old physiology student, Chidiume Kenneth Ekene, committed suicide right in the corner of his hostel at Uli, Anambra State.
Usually, common suicidal methods prevalent amongst victims are poisoning, suffocation, jumping into the lagoon (drowning), and sometimes, firearms, but Chidiume’s case was through self-immolation (deliberately setting oneself on fire). It was hard to imagine the torture and gradual melting of his body in the presence of breath.
The news was shocking at first, but with the accounts of his friends and coursemates, negligence and ignorance ripened the deceased thoughts of suicide. They all confirmed that they noticed his unusual behaviour and statements saying that he wanted to die. In a Facebook post, one of his mates revealed her careless reply to the deceased: “…die make I come chop rice.” (see the screenshot below) And many believed it was a spiritual attack.
Suicide means death caused by injuring oneself with the intent to die while a suicide attempt is self-inflicted harm with any intent to end one’s life that did not eventually result in death. Staying silent about suicide is a problem because it fuels suicide itself, breeds confusion, promotes stigma, and isolates people when they need help the most. People become suicidal when they are experiencing a high level of stress, mental suffering, high-level hopelessness, and despair. It is a way of them feeling in control when they are in an uncontrollable situation, but sadly, make a permanent decision to end their life in a temporary state of pain.
Suicide is gaining its root gradually amongst teenagers and young adults, even adults.
Suicide is gaining its root gradually amongst teenagers and young adults, even adults. But we seem to understand the adult victims’ situation and ascribe the teenage and young adults’ case to a spiritual attack; hence, the advocacy for mental health at all levels and all ages has been like a fairytale. This is the reason why young adults who can effectively handle a social media app could not recognize a suicidal statement from their friend, how much more reporting to the appropriate authority.
Talking about reporting to the appropriate authority, the question for many would be “which authority?” “Do schools, especially government universities, orient their students constantly on the importance of visiting or reporting a case to the school’s counseling unit? If we have hotlines to call, what is the awareness level amongst citizens? The majority of students in our society go through the four walls of the university and cannot identify the counseling unit block in their school; no wonder the height of cluelessness exhibited by students faced with a clear suicide warning. It is high time we changed the narrative. The saying “there is no health without mental health” extends to “there is no productive society without mental health”. Being concerned about the economic state of our country is no more important than the dilapidated state of mental health in our face. Mental health does not have to stop at personal conviction alone; rather, it must expand to become a national consciousness and culture if we must breed a healthy society.
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