There is a surging trend of Nigerians committing suicide with about 80 killed in the last 13 months, according to reported incidents collated by Daily Trust.
Seventy-nine people had committed suicide between April 8, 2017, and May 12 this year, according to the data obtained by Daily Trust from content analysis of Nigerian newspapers.
Majority of the reasons given for the reported suicides range from financial difficulty, marital problems, academic challenges, among others. Lagos State leads the pack with 14 reported cases within the period under review.
Close to 800 000 people die globally due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said. According to WHO Suicide Ranking, with 15.1 suicides per 100,000 population in a year, Nigeria is now the 30th most suicide-prone (out of 183 nations) in the world.
Nigeria is also ranked 10th African country with higher rates of suicide, leading countries like Togo (ranked 26th), Sierra Leone (11th), Angola (19th), Equatorial Guinea (7th), Burkina Faso (22nd) and Cote d’Ivoire (5th).
The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) said suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds globally.
Suicide is a global phenomenon; in fact, 78 percent of suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries in 2015. Suicide accounted for 1.4 percent of all deaths worldwide, making it the 17th leading cause of death in 2015.
There are indications that for each adult who died of suicide there may have been more than 20 others who have attempted suicide.
Reasons and signs of suicide – Experts
Medical experts said some of the signs that someone may be thinking or planning to commit suicide include change in behaviour or the presence of entirely new behaviours, when a person is always talking or thinking about death or killing self, when a person loses interest in things he or she used to care about before and making comments about being worthless, helpless or hopeless.
Others include when the person has depression, takes risks that could lead to death, sudden switch from being very sad to being happy, visiting or calling people to say goodbye, looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means, acting recklessly and withdrawing from activities to mention a few.
They said people around anyone exhibiting these signs or who have attempted suicide before should be concerned and seek help from experts and appropriate authorities.
Dr Mustapha Gudaji, a consultant psychiatrist with the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and a senior lecturer with Bayero University Kano, said there are many factors responsible for the rising cases of suicide.
He said there are biological causes such as people committing suicide because of personality defects, and some diseases that make them feel incomplete and want to take their lives, adding that other causes are the mental illnesses like depression, drugs abuse, and adjustment disorders.
Dr Gudaji said the high rate of drug abuse is also increasing the prevalence of suicide in the country saying that some people engage in drug abuse to escape from the high realities of life, and to take care of mental illnesses like depression, known as mal-adjustive ways of coping.
The psychiatrist said sociological causes of suicide include unemployment and socioeconomic hardships among others.
Dr Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri, a consultant neuropsychiatrist and psychotherapist, said depression, reactions to failure and disappointments, in response to accumulated domestic violence, unemployment, alcohol dependence, are some reasons for committing suicide.
“Against the general belief that suicide results from mental illness, not all people who commit suicide are mentally ill,” Dr Kadiri who is also the Medical Director of Pinnacle Medical Services, Lagos, said.
She said suicide prevention needs proper coordination and collaboration to ensure effective outcomes.
According to her, suicide is not the best way of dealing with personal loss or the way to manage any situation. “Suicide has to stop and this involves joint campaign by everyone,” she added.
“There is need to develop resilience (the ability to cope with adverse life events and adjust to them), a sense of personal self-worth and self-confidence, effective coping and problem-solving skills, and adaptive help-seeking behaviour because they are often considered to be protective factors against the development of suicidal behaviours,” she advised.
What religious leaders say
The Founder of the Al-Mustofiyyah Society of Nigeria, Ustaz Maisuna M. Yahya, said while it is haram (forbidden) to commit suicide, some of the reasons for the rising cases of suicide in the last one year include economic hardship with some who graduated having no job and those who learnt apprenticeship have no money to buy instruments, as well as the low-income salary, sacked or retrenchment.
“Suicide is a great punishable sin in the sight of Allah. And whoever hopes in God, will be repatriated by Him. So also, are divorced cases loss of hope in the nearest future lack of strong faith in Allah as the Sole Provider (Sustainer).
“Also, are orphanages and widows’ predicaments, frustration from indebtedness, peers’ influence, effects of drug addiction, the harshness of parenthood, loneliness without socialising with other responsible people,” Yahya said.
On his part, the Chief Imam of the Al-Habibiyyah Islamic Society, Sheik Fuad Adeyemi, said, non-reliance on Allah and over ambition among others also contribute to the high cases of suicide in the country.
Also, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Samson Ayokunle told Daily Trust that the economic situation in the country is largely responsible.
“From all indications, the political class has failed us. They over-promised but under-deliver and instead of joint hands in solving social and economic problems, they are indulging in blame game. The jobless, the hungry, the homeless, the hopeless, the rejected, the poor, the sick who has no one to take care of him or her at all, do not care which party is ruling or the opposition.
“All they want is a solution to their problems. If the religion is telling them hereafter, the government is not put in place to send them to the early grave but helps them to justify their existence. Our government at all levels should wake up from their unholy slumber before the situation snowballs into revolution. A hungry man is an angry man.
“Nigeria has what it takes to make life comfortable to all and sundry. The political class should stop cornering our commonwealth,” Ayokunle who spoke through his spokesman, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji said