YOUTH SUICIDE ON THE RISE: Can We Stop it Now Before it Becomes an Epidemic?
By Segun Oniyide
Reports have it that A 400 level Law student of Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Oladipo Olalekan Ige, committed suicide on Monday March 3rd after allegedly being jilted by his girlfriend.Oladipo was reportedly found dead in his apartment at the Asherifa area of Ile-Ife on Monday evening. He was said to have killed himself through ingestion of a lethal dose of poison.
Dipo was reported to be a loner and before now frequently talked about being depressed and so didn’t think the break up affected him so bad when he started to withdraw into himself. And nobody really took his threat to commit suicide seriously until his body was found in his off campus residence. His distraught family has since received his body and moved it to his home town , Ibadan for interment.
Unfortunately the the youth suicide rate seems to be on the rise in Nigeria due to a variety of reasons. Before Ige’s death Motunrayo Ogbara, a 26-year-old ex-banker in Lagos State, was reported to have also committed suicide in 2011. Not of few were shocked that a vivacious young lady like Moratunyo could have killed herself. Her death was however not unconnected to depression according to those close to her. It was not long after that that Mr. Al-Mustaim Alade Abaniwonda, a budding Lagos politician was reported to have jumped into the Lagos lagoon, after he alighted from his chauffeur-driven car at the Leventis Bus Stop, Marina.
On January 6 a part-time student of The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Oyo State, Timilehin Ayobami Ogundare was found dead in his room at Ilupeju area, Baasala, Asero, Abeokuta, Ogun State in western Nigeria. The death was believed to have been caused by suicide by hanging.
Timilehin Ayobami was a computer operator at Blueprint Music Studio in Abeokuta. It was reported by a family source that the young man had previously made futile attempts to kill himself.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020, the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds.
However, rates are higher in men than in women, with males three to four times more likely to kill themselves than females. There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year.
The rate of young people committing suicides have been on the increase in recent years. In the last 45 years, suicide rates have increased by 60 percent worldwide making it among the three leading causes of death worldwide.
Bhudist Physician Alex Lickerman gives us 6 reasons why people may commit suicide:
- They’re depressed. This is without question the most common reason people commit suicide. Severe depression is always accompanied by a pervasive sense of suffering as well as the belief that escape from it is hopeless. The pain of existence often becomes too much for severely depressed people to bear. The state of depression warps their thinking, allowing ideas like “Everyone would all be better off without me” to make rational sense. They shouldn’t be blamed for falling prey to such distorted thoughts any more than a heart patient should be blamed for experiencing chest pain: it’s simply the nature of their disease. Because depression, as we all know, is almost always treatable, we should all seek to recognize its presence in our close friends and loved ones. Often people suffer with it silently, planning suicide without anyone ever knowing. Despite making both parties uncomfortable, inquiring directly about suicidal thoughts in my experience almost always yields an honest response. If you suspect someone might be depressed, don’t allow your tendency to deny the possibility of suicidal ideation prevent you from asking about it.
- They’re psychotic. Malevolent inner voices often command self-destruction for unintelligible reasons. Psychosis is much harder to mask than depression, and is arguably even more tragic. The worldwide incidence of schizophrenia is 1% and often strikes otherwise healthy, high-performing individuals, whose lives, though manageable with medication, never fulfill their original promise. Schizophrenics are just as likely to talk freely about the voices commanding them to kill themselves as not, and also, in my experience, give honest answers about thoughts of suicide when asked directly. Psychosis, too, is treatable, and usually must be treated for a schizophrenic to be able to function at all. Untreated or poorly treated psychosis almost always requires hospital admission to a locked ward until the voices lose their commanding power.
- They’re impulsive. Often related to drugs and alcohol, some people become maudlin and impulsively attempt to end their own lives. Once sobered and calmed, these people usually feel emphatically ashamed. The remorse is often genuine, but whether or not they’ll ever attempt suicide again is unpredictable. They may try it again the very next time they become drunk or high, or never again in their lifetime. Hospital admission is therefore not usually indicated. Substance abuse and the underlying reasons for it are generally a greater concern in these people and should be addressed as aggressively as possible.
- They’re crying out for help, and don’t know how else to get it. These people don’t usually want to die but do want to alert those around them that something is seriously wrong. They often don’t believe they will die, frequently choosing methods they don’t think can kill them in order to strike out at someone who’s hurt them, but they are sometimes tragically misinformed. The prototypical example of this is a young teenage girl suffering genuine angst because of a relationship, either with a friend, boyfriend, or parent, who swallows a bottle of Tylenol, not realizing that in high enough doses Tylenol causes irreversible liver damage. I’ve watched more than one teenager die a horrible death in an ICU days after such an ingestion when remorse has already cured them of their desire to die and their true goal of alerting those close to them of their distress has been achieved.
- They have a philosophical desire to die. The decision to commit suicide for some is based on a reasoned decision, often motivated by the presence of a painful terminal illness from which little to no hope of reprieve exists. These people aren’t depressed, psychotic, maudlin, or crying out for help. They’re trying to take control of their destiny and alleviate their own suffering, which usually can only be done in death. They often look at their choice to commit suicide as a way to shorten a dying that will happen regardless. In my personal view, if such people are evaluated by a qualified professional who can reliably exclude the other possibilities for why suicide is desired, these people should be allowed to die at their own hands.
- They’ve made a mistake. This is a recent, tragic phenomenon in which typically young people flirt with oxygen deprivation for the high it brings and simply go too far. The only defense against this, it seems to me, is education.
The wounds suicide leaves in the lives of those left behind by it are often deep and long lasting. The apparent senselessness of suicide often fuels the most significant pain. Thinking we all deal better with tragedy when we understand its underpinnings
We know that no kind of sudden death of a young person leaves the close relations of the deceased feeling consoled but Suicide leaves a particularly stinging pain. Sometimes guilt, anger, helplessness and psychological withdrawals are emotions that the hapless survivors have to cope with as the mourn their lost loved ones.
1. Is Nigeria becoming a fertile ground for youth suicide?
2. Are we taking mental health issues as seriously as we should in Nigeria?