Mental illness has since stopped being a fringe topic, at least on Twitter wherein we constantly encounter suicidal tweets and online missives that indicate depression, anxiety, etc. While it’s important that everyone should take care of their mental health, we are witnessing an explosion of mental illness and related cases with young people, and suicide performed with the aid of the obscenely popular insecticide Sniper.
In all this, there’s been a great work towards destigmatising mental illness on Nigerian Twitter, and even beyond the boundary of the internet. This morning, I came across a Punch illustration on Twitter asking people to ‘caption this cartoon.’
Caption this cartoon. pic.twitter.com/9VlnrUGWGU
— The Punch Newspapers (@MobilePunch) June 10, 2019
It’s an image split into three: one showing a raggedy-haired man smoking, one adding Tramadol to his drink, and the other looking somber and on the verge of ingesting Sniper. Christ, I wish I can call Sniper the ‘S’ word. While the cartoon is a perfect snapshot of the zeitgeist, of young people indulging in substance abuse for fun, it was made with utterly no desire to criticize or interrogate the prevalence of the problem. I’m particular about the third picture, with the ‘S’ word, which has been inextricably linked to the alarming rates of suicide.
It’s shocking that this is coming from Punch, a news platform that should also be involved in enlightening Nigerians about mental illness, and debunking myths around it.