I checked my calendar today to find to my chagrin that today is World Suicide Prevention Day.
I’d have let that pass if I hadn’t been inundated with the rampancy of news of suicides in Nigeria in particular and the world in general.
By now, I’m sure you’d have heard that Ariel Castro who was charged and convicted for kidnaping for more than a decade women who were in their teens at the time of their abduction, and repeatedly raped them, even terminating their pregnancies over the years in Cleveland, Ohio was found dead, hanging in his cell.
This isn’t about Ariel Castro even though I used his example since it’s the most recent of cases (and for lack of any other example in recent times, though a myriad of other popular and less popular suicide events of note, come to mind).
I will not belabour you with facts and figures, you can readily glean from google or World Health Organization, WHO sites, but from what hear and see on a daily basis, it will be a great understatement to merely state that the incidence of suicides in todays’ world is on the increase, geometrically if I might add.
In Nigeria like in many African countries, suicides used to be very rare (though there’re no official figures to confirm this), as news of such events were few and far between. In many cultures in Africa, suicide is considered an abomination, and a suicide victim back in the day (in some of these cultures) were buried outside the village or city walls (or in so called ‘EVIL FORESTS’), and that’s regardless of his/her status in society.
With the westernization of many African societies, and the detaboolization of many actions hitherto considered taboo, deplorable acts like suicide have now become rampant, and no thanks to advancement in science, medicine and technology, the means to procure it has become easier and even less painful.
Suicides have come to stay with us, with no day passing without news of one or the other person opting to leave via that means. Even though we may consider the numbers much, the number of those who have successfully bid life goodbye by committing suicide pales to the many who failed in their attempt and were not even caught in the act or noticed, like it had been for Paris, the late Michael Jackson’s daughter.
Besides, there remain yet a multitude of people who at one point or the other in their lives had had to battle with the thought of actualizing the act, but never gathered enough cojones to see it through. So no matter how you see it, it is important that suicide as an issue of urgent national and international issue be discussed and solutions proffered aimed at reducing it’s occurrence.
It is for this reason, that despite my shock at discovering that there’s such a day as this, I’m very glad that it does exist and will serve as an opportunity for this all important issue to be discussed.
Unfortunately, suicide as a menace has failed to garner the kind of attention others like the perennial attention grabber that’s HIV/AIDS gathers on its day, but it hardly takes away from it, the devastation it leaves family, friends, close and distant acquaintances of victims in, when such unfortunate event occurs.
It leaves everyone wondering how such came to be, how it is that no one saw it coming, and if there was anything that could’ve been done to prevent the unfortunate outcome.
Sadly, the society we once had in Africa that was quite closed and supportive of its members has become now more individualized and westernized, and then coupled with prevalent poverty, which creates an avenue where the frustrated are now no more looking to delay their visit back to their creator.
The pressure we face nowadays in all spheres of life is also contributory, coupled with the harsh environment where it’s become anathema to not be an achiever.
I must not end this without mentioning the contribution bullying makes to the high suicide incidence. It’s difficult to find kids nowadays who aren’t themselves bullies, who hadn’t been bullied at one time or the other. The rising case of cyberbullying is another case in point.
It only boils down to the fact that we must pay some attention to those we love as well as those we make acquaintance with routinely. We may not have the solution to their problems or challenges, they may not even want it, but they may just need that attentive ear, which only you at that point in time stand the chance to provide.
Pay some attention today for it may be the last time you get to hear from the next suicide victim!