By Oji Odu
A medical doctor, Allwell Orji, yesterday committed suicide in Lagos. He jumped into the Lagos Lagoon from the Third Mainland Bridge and drowned. This brings to the fore the rising cases of suicide in recent times in the country which has become worrisome as Nigerians go through untold hardship caused by recession.
The Magazine learnt that the man, who was being driven by his driver in a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), was receiving a call when he suddenly asked his driver to park the car on the bridge between Adekunle and Adeniji on the Third Mainland Bridge inward Lagos Island. He then came out of the car and jumped into the lagoon.
Who called him on the phone? What was the content of their discussion that pushed the medical doctor choose the option of suicide? What was his mental, emotional even financial state of health? As spiritual Africans, was he remote-controlled? These are some of the questions begging for answers as the Police continues investigations to unravel reasons for the suicide.
After the incident, officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and policemen were immediately mobilised to the scene to retrieve the body of the victim. Already, policemen from Adeniji Police Station had taken the driver and the SUV to the police station for further investigations.
Speaking on the incident, spokesman of LASEMA, Kehinde Adebayo, said : “The agency received a distress call of a man who parked his grey coloured Nissan SUV with registration number LND 476 EE at about 4:50p.m. on Sunday, around Adekunle, inward Third Mainland Bridge and jumped into the Lagos lagoon.
“Preliminary investigation at the scene revealed that the man, said to be a medical doctor named Orji, suddenly ordered his driver to pull over, dropped from the car and suddenly jumped into the water from the bridge,” he said.
A witness to the Orji suicide simply as @bimmms24 shared her experience on Instagram. : “I witnessed the worst thing ever today (yesterday). The owner of this particular car jumped into the lagoon right in front of me. I saw him get out of his car, then jumped. I was directly behind him. I parked and ran as fast as my legs could carry me, but it was too late.
“I wish he had waited a little longer. I wish, I was able to stop him. I wish I was about to hold his hands. I wish he could tell me what the problem was. Depression is real. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’m still in shock. I couldn’t control my tears.
“I ran after him. I tried to save him. I called for help. Suicide is not the answer. It’s a pity, a problem shared isn’t a problem solved anymore; it’s a problem gossiped about. We now live in a world where negativity is like 90%.”
In a related development, an unidentified woman also jumped into the lagoon from Maza-Maza Bridge in the Mile 2 area of Lagos. She was however, lucky, as rescuers fished her out before she could drown.
According to a witness, the woman, dressed in a blouse and trousers, was trekking and got to the middle of the bridge, climbed the rail and jumped.
“The thing happened so fast that we could not stop her. However, when she jumped, we called for help, prompting people under the bridge to dive in and rescue her,” said one of the witnesses, who gave his name as Emeka.
It would be recalled that the operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) last year prevented a mother of four from committing suicide by jumping into the lagoon with a 12-month old baby. The 27-year-old lady, simply known as Mrs. Adegoke, was restrained by two RRS riders from plunging into the lagoon from the top of the Third Mainland Bridge.
On interrogation, the woman said she trekked from Medina Estate in Gbagada to Third Mainland. She heard a voice calling out to her to come to the Third Mainland Bridge.She said she decided to harken to the call because it was repeated.
Experts are of the opinion that following the recession, more Nigerians may probably move to depression with suicide being the best option for them because of the inability to meet their basic needs.
According to Bello Ahmed, a Sociologist, with the current recession, the number of Nigerians committing suicide will go up within the next months.
He said: “When there is recession and the economic realities hit people too hard, they opt to take their lives, take a look at society’s world over where recession happened, the case is no different.
“Under the Muhammadu Buhari’s government, more people are likely to commit suicide and we will see them blaming the economy (with their suicide notes) because it is what is happening.
“Many Nigerians can no longer afford meals, not talking of meeting basic needs like rent and paying fees. The hardship will get to that point, that is what happens in an economic recession. Also we should have in mind that a lot of cases will go unreported”.
According to the expert if country’s economic moves from recession to depression, then the number of Nigerians committing suicide will also increase.
Fifty-year-old Ekanem Edet from Akwa Ibom state, committed suicide by hanging himself to the roof of his room. But just before his death, Edet was said to have left a suicide note for President Buhari.
A day before this incident another man attempted to commit suicide by jumping into Mile 2 River, Lagos.
The man, who was later saved by some divers in a speed boat, he was shouting : ‘ Buhari, Buhari, Buhari,’ while attempting to kill himself.
Following the worrisome trend, not a few Nigerians are asking the Federal Government to urgently set up measures to tackle the recession as the cost of living continues to increase daily with its attendant hardship.
By Oji Odu