Opinion: Suicide- Religious leaders are not doing enough


by Owolabi Afeez Ashola

I wondered why someone will think the exit route to end difficulties of life is by taking his or her own life. I then realised the person was probably going through depression, despair, health issues, marital issues, low self-esteem and so on.

But after suicide, is that the end?  There is life after death,  depending on your faith: Muslims believe in the hereafter. Christians believe in Judgment day- i.e know as the day of resurrection.

Instances of suicide or self-killing have been known throughout recorded history.  It was known and discussed in the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations; it has been noted in the Jewish and Christian faiths and is mentioned in the classical Hindu books.  Suicide or hara-kiri is part of the ancient Japanese honour code and is noted in Asian cultures.  It is not something confined to Western civilisation and it’s even found in Muslim-majority countries-  even though it is well known that it is something clearly prohibited in Islam. In the Quran, there are sanctions against suicide.

The Quran makes it clear that human life is sacred.

“And do not kill yourselves. Surely God is most merciful to you” (Quran 4:29).

Life is about moments.  At the two extremes, there are joyful moments that make our hearts soar and dark moments that plunge us into sadness and worry or even despair.  Gladness and its opposite sadness are part of the human condition, however, when we lose control over our emotions we can easily fall into despair.  Despair is that feeling we get when all hope has disappeared and it is a very dangerous situation. The Quran also believes there is joy after despair.

“So verily, with hardship, there is ease.” (Quran 94:5)

The holy books of both religions speak against suicide. The Muslims believe there is punishment for the soul that takes his or her own life. Likewise, the holy Bible view is this:

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

1 Corinthians 3:16 -17.

The Bible also says:

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.”   Psalm 34: 17 – 20.

Then this question comes to my mind that ‘ why can’t I blame someone? ‘  Do you want to blame someone that thinks of suicide? You don’t want to if you listen to what they are going through,  or can we conclude that the economy recession is contributing to this depression of a thing, if you say yes you aren’t out of point, yet the government is trying it best on corruption aspect as almost every Nigerians will agree corruption brought us to this present status. Some family can’t even afford two square meal a day, should we blame the present government? Then you don’t want to hear the reply from Minister of Information and Tourism Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Legal angle:

Recently,  we heard of an attempted suicide in Lagos state, Nigeria, on the Third Mainland bridge.

Attempted suicide is an offence punishable under Section 233 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015. The sentence is life imprisonment.

A business woman one Mrs Momoh who attempted suicide on the third mainland bridge rescued by a police officer was charged to court.

Mrs Momoh if convicted may be sentenced to life imprisonment according to the provisions of the above-mentioned section.

The suspect had in March told newsmen that she had been having sleepless nights since she was allegedly duped of N18.7 million by a Bureau-de-Change operator sometime in 2015.

At the session of the Court, Chief Magistrate Mr A.T. Elias admitted Mrs Momoh to a bail of N500,000 with two sureties. Where do we expect her to get this money? What she needs is a psychological support and not addition to her misery.

We even heard of a pastor that came to Lagos all the way from the East to cast out the demons from the Lagoon. He even announced a day crusade. Ridiculous! Must we turn every avenue to money-making venture when it obvious that the cause of this suicide saga is depression or mental health issues? Haba!

Very little is needed to make a happy life, it is all within yourself in your way of thinking, Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we handle it.

Whatever you are going through in life, it’s not the end; there is hope at the end of the tunnel. Don’t keep things to yourself; share with close ones. Say it out, you will be relieved. Seek for help, no one has it all. There is a Chinese saying that the best time to plant a tree is 20years ago but the good time is now.  Religious leaders have an enormous task to do by preaching against suicide. It’s not about collecting their tithe and sadaqat alone. Help by giving back to the poor in the congregations.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Owolabi Afeez Ashola writes from Lagos, Nigeria. Twitter : @AsholaAfex

One comment

  1. Amazing piece, Owolabi. I believe we really need to change how we handle suicide cases.

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