Last weekend, there were two high profile suicides. One was of Caroline Flack, the former presenter of viral reality show ‘Love Island’; a show voraciously consumed by young Nigerians at home and in the diaspora. The other was an as yet unnamed young man, who took an Uber to a destination unknown, asked his driver to stop on Third Mainland Bridge (3MB) and jumped to his death. Flack’s suicide was explained by her suicide note but no one knows the young man’s motivations or why he chose to include the innocent Uber driver in his decision to take his life. He could have scarcely known it would ripple into consequences for others, even strangers like the driver who was driving him when he chose to end his life.
You remember the lad that alighted from an Uber and committed suicide by jumping from the 3rd Mainland bridge last week? The Police have locked up the Uber driver!
— the Morris Monye factor (@Morris_Monye) February 24, 2020
Twitter Morris Monye reminded everyone that the probably traumatized Uber driver has been arrested by the Nigerian police on suspicion of aiding and abetting the man’s decision to end his life. This arrest is predicated on an archaic law that first of all criminalizes suicide as murder and punishes people it considers complicit in the act. This is disheartening when you consider there are little to no safety nets to help people who are depressed or struggling with suicidal thoughts and guide them away from the edge, only punishment if they fail and punishment for the people around them if they succeed.
These kind of punitive measures only lead to fear and a refusal of people who witness these kinds of tragedies to come forward with the information they have for fear of being punished by the Nigerian police. We need more people to be open about suicide and suicidal thoughts, we need more people to be open about their feelings, not less. When will we as a people learn that?