Opinion: The suicide cry for help that we often miss

by Isa Eneye Mubarak

The problem about suicide is that one makes a permanent, irreversible, irrevocable treatment of a temporary problem, but still, it is becoming a trend in Nigeria. When one is suicidal, they just want to be out of their current situation or their miserable lives, and they see death as the escape route!

The annoying situation after someone has taken their own life is the speculations people make about why he did it and why she did it. Suicide isn’t that straightforward, it is complex. You do not know the conscience of a dead person so you cannot assume they did it because of this or that.

About the civil servant who committed suicide in Kogi, it was reported he was owed 11 months salary and people are now speculating that because of that, he committed suicides barely 10 days after his wife of 17 years gave birth to a set of male triplets (which should be something of great joy, considering the circumstances).

Reports also have it that he sold his properties amounting to millions due to hardships….

Anyway, let me spare you the details. But my point is, the whole thing is not adding up. I refuse to believe he committed suicide because of unpaid salary arrears. The man left a suicide note, and he was very vague, didn’t imply it was because of hardship or whatever specifically.

I also understand people are looking for anything to criticize the Kogi state government, and will easily join the bandwagon of “he committed suicide over unpaid salaries” without necessarily examining the facts.

When you take your life immediately after a crisis, everyone attributes your suicide to that one incident notwithstanding the fact that you could have been plotting your own death months prior to the crisis that pushed you over the edge. But nah, society has a very narrow understanding of depression.

These few days I’ve been hearing a lot of things about suicide and most of the people that speak about it don’t seem concerned at all, some of them even go as far as saying: “those that attempt suicide are just cowards, attention seeking and selfish.”

The Black society can’t and will probably never understand mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. So no, talking to someone in the black family will not help. Trust me. Have you seen how black families treat kids who’ve survived a suicide attempt?

Let me tell you what happens after you attempt suicide and fail. First, you wake up in a hospital confused, disoriented and nauseous with a pipe in your penis. After clearing your mind and realising you’re still alive and in a hospital instead of heaven or hell, you note your immediate family all staring at you and happy to see you awake.

Then the casual talk starts and you assure everyone you’re okay and they leave. After that, your vitals are checked and you’re monitored for a few days and off you go – home. The one place where everyone can be honest. You get home and everyone assumes “he/she’s okay now”.  Bear in mind only your physical wellbeing was monitored in hospital, you’re still a mental-wreck. But nah, because mental illness ain’t a thing in black society, once you’re out of hospital your suicide attempt is swept under the rug for some time – only till some people come over for intervention, normally elders or pastors. This is usually the period where your family gets sick and tired of your attention seeking stunts and you’re told the truth, the bitter truth.

All this when you’re still an emotional wreck, your family literally pushes you back into the pit that you’re not really sure you want to live. So what do you do? You suffer in silence because you understand that any talk of suicide will unleash words such as “next time, I’ll personally deal with you.”

So what do you do? You withdraw into yourself, you suffer alone. You’re back to square one. You’re back to plotting your own death but this time you fear something, no not death, failing. You fear failing to kill yourself once again over your prospective death. You find that your own escape (death) has now been turned into an instrument to torment you.

So tell me, how “speak to someone”, have actually spoken to someone? In reality, it’s not that easy, just speaking to someone will not entirely help; it’s like drinking Aspirin for HIV/AIDS.

Depression is a serious mental illness that needs medical attention, the only way you can help a depressed friend is by telling someone. You, good friend, are not emotionally and mentally equipped to deal with a suicidal subject. So, when a friend of yours is suicidal, call the helpline for them and yourself instead of just passing the number along and thinking you’ve played your part.

So unless you’ve been in a suicide victim’s shoe or been suicidal , stop speculating. Mental illnesses are complex because the human brain and psyche are complex too. You might say you’d never kill yourself today and kill yourself the next day. No one gets born knowing they’ll kill themselves one-day, it all happens so fast.

Remember, when it comes to suicide, you never really know who is ‘playing’ or who will actually do it. So take every suicide joke seriously, those are the signs. No one wakes up and decides enough is enough, I’m taking my life today. Victims plan their death for days, months or even years all the while leaving clues in the form of cries of help but we miss them or ignore them and when they’ve taken their own life we claim they are selfish.


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

Isa Eneye Mubarak [email protected]

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