Nigeria is a peculiar state but its peculiarity is not uncommon. It is large with diverse culture and religion as like many others, has had economic meltdowns and political brouhahas as well as its fair share of civil disturbances. In fact, the civil war which lasted for well over a year was cited in several sociopolitical literatures as the captain cause of discord and distrust, a maze we are yet to escape from since the 60’s till date.
It is no news the abundant loss of properties and lives that were recorded, how men went against men, and mothers prayed for their children to die from war so that they may not see them die from hunger. How much of a blow that would have been psychologically and emotionally is being translated to the relationship of the various ethnicity today. A show that trauma runs deep from generation to generation paying no mind to religion, urbanization or time. Yet…the number of suicide cases were said to be very few and sparsely concentrated in those times of extreme hardship.
It was a taboo as it is now, but the difference was that it was one that shamed kinsmen, community and the state as a whole, it was one that was never for show. Nobody cared to promote it, nobody cared to talk about it. Awareness of it was just as bad as the act itself, because it meant acknowledgement that suicide or killing of oneself was probable, factual and a black man’s problem too.
Now you see, Nigerians are not new to hard times but we are relatively new to urban times in the sense that what differentiates the African Society from most others is our rich social capital. The neighbor that pokes her nose into your business, the market woman that knows everybody’s story, the village meetings where disputes are discussed and addressed, the local bar man that knows who is having a hard day at work, and the lonely widower that corrects erring children, further warning them against bad company. Indeed Africa’s culture and togetherness cannot be separated as they sustain each other, our culture promotes togetherness, and togetherness promotes our culture. A synergy that is slowly evaporating in the realities of urbanization.
With Urbanization comes the following, the hurry and struggle to succeed which must be supported with the mental balancing to do so, a requirement that Africa or Nigeria as a case study is not well familiarized with. The mental state of a man who tries to succeed and doesn’t, or the subjective reaction to change is one that is not handled with the common technique of shrugging it off ones shoulders. The truth is that in this global village we live in, more is expected so more is done and when one fails to meet a socially acceptable mark, or fails to accept a change in trajectory, such person’s vulnerability regresses or develops to depression or the zeal to try harder, the former is one of the common causes of the rise in suicide today.
Yet another doing of urbanization, is the era of the social media, which many describe as both a curse and a blessing in itself. It is undeniably true, that suicide cases are obvious because of the media publicity of it. Whereas before its advent, such matters were known among family members and at most community members, it is therefore debatable that these cases were not as frequent as they are today, for one the opprobriousness of the act, the fact that it was a taboo topic that was not worth the retelling or recording and the unavailability of a widespread digital platform like what we have now. So social media is not necessarily the cause of the increase but most assuredly the cause of the visibility.
Nevertheless, media influence cannot be downplayed as it is recorded that with more news, comes more subconscious messaging. It becomes almost welcoming, as individuals consider it with some accepting it.
Hope is not lost. In the same work plan, urbanization can be a reason for its decline as well, if instruments or measures are devised to balance the change that is before us. The storming affair can be soothed with the paddle of solution if the headlines reading… suicide occurred here and there are boldly pictured right next to another providing a help center for anyone having such thoughts.
For it is evidently not enough to acknowledge the happening, it is not even enough to set a media alarm stating “Suicide is not a choice. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem’’ and all the other captions that appear when such stories break.
It is time we become solution providers as well, it is time to be the balance. To know like first aid knowledge what to tell someone who has been through trauma, who has suicidal thoughts, who sees no way out. It is time to resume social capital in this digital age, to be our brother’s keeper, to choose to listen and not mock, to choose to see this for what it is. A killer that needs to be severely dealt with, it is not something to romance, and to clasp our hands or hiss about, it is not gist or gossip, it is not just news, it is a call to promote the togetherness that culture assures.
So spread the news but don’t forget the message and the procedure to ensure it is well received. Don’t forget to give the solution because that is the only thing that saves at the end of the day. Let’s stop promoting a problem without a solution. Get informed and spread this word.
Depression can kill. YOU CAN R.I.S.E
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