By Tayo Demola
I was really astonished to hear the news of the medical doctor who went all the way to the third mainland bridge right here in Lagos and killed himself! He actually committed suicide in the most cruel way. He was actually cruel to himself, to his family and infact he was very cruel to Nigeria as a nation. So this man was so depressed to the extent that he left church on that fateful day and headed for the island but when he got to third mainland bridge, he asked his driver to park the car and when the driver packed the car, he told his driver he wanted to ease himself but instead he jumped inside the lagoon. And all this happened without anybody being in sight to rescue him. Nobody to rescue this depressed and dying man? What a nation!
But why this cruelty to yourself and the rest of us for God’s sake? Why put yourself through that pain and agony of having to swim through the waters in pains, to swallow so much water just in a bid to end your own life? Why dehumanize your body by committing suicide and then put your family and the rest of us in pain of losing you? Has Nigeria now become so bad and hopeless that a whole medical doctor would have no other option than to take his own life? Have we degenerated to that level where people now think of suicide as a last resort? Has life become so brutish, short and hopeless in Nigeria that such a person who ordinarily should be a role model and someone looked up to by many who aspire to be like him, could just wake up one day and decide to end his own life? What a pity! What a nation?
Now to even think that he was coming from the church makes the whole situation look so pathetic. What is the role of the church in this whole issue? What happened while he was in the church and what sermon was preached in that church on that day? Has the church played its own role in preventing this type of ugly situations from happening or are they only interested in the tithe and offering that members bring to them? Yes we know many churches in Nigeria live up to expectations by solving the problems of their members but we also know that there are many more churches who would rather add to the problems of some members than solve such problems. A person would go to church and they would still ask him to go and bring money in order to pray for him even when he cannot afford to feed himself. Is that not hypocrisy by those churches who do so?
It is possible that despite he went to the church for prayers, the church could not solve his problems. It is even possible that the sermon never made any impact on him. It is also very possible that he was going through a lot of psychological problems that the church could neither detect nor solve. Now this brings us to another thing. Is it enough to preach every Sunday without caring to get close to your members to know what they are passing through emotionally? Are churches not supposed to organize counselling for their members to help solve certain psychological problems as this? Are churches not supposed to even detect this type of problems from the spiritual realm while the person is in service and call him aside and pray for him which will ultimately prevent him from taking his own life?
The truth is that some Nigerians are walking corpses because the economy has made many Nigerians worse off than they were previously. Many people are only just living from hand to mouth and this was never what Nigerians expected from their government. But when we talk about those living from hand to mouth, at least they even have something to put in their mouth, what about those who don’t even have anything to put in their mouth and who have no hope of what they would eat at all? Are these people not Nigerians as well? Are they not also entitled to our common patrimony?
Why has our collective wealth been frittered away and looted by wicked leaders while the majority of Nigerians wallow in abject poverty? Why has the Nigerian economy degenerated so badly that even a medical doctor could take his own life just because he is depressed? Why has our government failed us so much that Nigeria has become even worse than it used to be? How did we get to this pitiable state as a nation? Do we really deserve this type of suffering foisted on Nigeria? Why should we be suffering and smiling?
When you see any Nigerian so well dressed on the road, looking so beautifully or handsomely dressed up that you would instantly admire them, and you would even think that they are better off than you, don’t conclude yet and don’t even feel bad about yourself yet because you may actually be better than him. You know why? Because he may be facing so much bottled-up psychological trauma that if not properly handled by an expert such as a psychologist, he may think of ending his life or the life of another person near him. But the surprising thing here is that why a medical doctor again because not long ago we read in the news of a medical doctor in Ogun State who killed his own mother and it was later discovered that the doctor had mental instability. But does mental instability not arise from psychological trauma not properly handled and not treated or solved on time which now degenerates to mental illness? Why a medical doctor again?
Are doctors not supposed to be psychologists themselves who should be entrusted with human life to detect psychological trauma and treat their patients until they get well? Are they not supposed to be mentally balanced themselves and if any doctor is going through such psychological trauma himself, what manner of diagnosis or treatment will he give his patient when himself is not even psychologically balanced in the first place? So I keep wondering why all these bad news about doctors having psychological problems but it’s the situation of Nigeria. A lot of people have been hit by the economy and we are only deceiving ourselves and pretending that all is well but deep down we Nigerians know that all is not well. A lot of families have been torn apart because many breadwinners can no longer provide for their families. Infact some marriages have crashed just because of economic hardship and many children have been withdrawn from school since their parents can no longer afford to pay their school fees. Many Nigerians are no longer thinking of buying clothes, shoes and other necessities but just what to eat for the day. Clothes and shoes have now become luxury items to many people. What a pity! What a nation!
I have heard someone telling another during a heated argument to go to third mainland bridge and hang himself or jump into the river if that would satisfy him. Now I can see that people have now regarded third mainland bridge as a place where they can go and end their life if they wished to. They could just go and jump into the lagoon without as much as anybody or government official being there to prevent these suicide tendencies. But why third mainland bridge? Why be so cruel to yourself, your family and the nation by making everyone look for your body so frantically and you end up putting everyone in fear and pain? Why prevent people from giving you a decent burial and why give your body to the fishes to devour? Has third mainland bridge now become a place where people go to end it all if they could no longer bear the harsh economy? And why is the government not proactive to stop this trend? What is it in this bridge that always attracts people to jump in and commit suicide? Now we know that the recession is biting harder and harder everyday while the government is helpless over the situation of things. What a pity! What a nation!
If we have a caring government who cares for its citizens, both Federal and state governments, by now there should have been officials of government whose duty should be to lurk around any place such this type of bridge where people go to commit suicide in order to prevent them from ending their lives. Why allow them end their lives after you failed them as a government? Nigerians were once known to be the happiest people on earth but I think the reverse is now the case. It now looks as if the more change in government we have, the worse Nigeria becomes. It looks as if every election now ushers in a government worse than the previous government, such that instead of progressing we keep retrogressing. So I keep wondering how we got to this sorry state of affairs. I keep wondering why must we keep dancing around the same circles without much progress. I keep wondering why the much needed change has eluded us so much that we regret even trying to make a change in the first place.
If the mass of the people in Nigeria live in abject poverty, cannot afford to eat good food and the cost of things in the market is so high that many cannot afford them, then what is the role of government if it cannot ensure that the Nigerian masses are better off instead of being worse off. Any government that inflicts pain and suffering on its citizens is a wicked and failed government. Infact we do not deserve any government that will add to the problems of Nigerians instead of solving them. We do not need any government that will promise heaven and earth but in the long run they will create hell and create more problems for the people than they’re trying to solve. If the people are hungry and people are now committing suicide more than ever before in Nigeria, then it is a sign that the government is only inflicting more suffering on Nigerians and we do not need this type of wicked government.
When you say as a government that you love Nigerians and you care for us but you have failed to bring up policies that can change the lives of Nigerians for the better, then it means as a government you don’t have the interest of Nigerians at heart. What we want is an action government that is proactive and let’s see the result of your leadership and not lip service. All our past leaders have all told us how they loved Nigeria but many of them through their actions have even created more problems for us than they tried to solve. We should no longer tolerate incompetent leaders who would promise to take us to the moon but instead they would end up taking us to the scorching sun where the heat of the sun would burn us and end up worsening our problems. We don’t want leaders who would keep heaping blames on the previous government everyday instead of taking action to solve Nigeria’s problems.
But for God’s sake what did we vote for this APC government to do? Did we vote for you to come and blame PDP for the mess in Nigeria or to come and clear the mess? Why even create more mess yourself? And when another government comes in, they would blame you and the circle continues? Oh common, enough of this childish behavior, it’s time the Nigerian government matured up to the point of taking responsibility for its actions and not just get to work, but do it very fast in order to better the lives of the Nigerian people. Someone said that why should the doctor commit suicide even when he is a rich man, even when he could afford to own a car and employ a driver. But he doesn’t know that the Nigerian situation has even made some supposedly rich people poorer and poorer to the extent that some can no longer pay their bills while some who even had two cars had no other option than to sell them just in order to be able to eat food since they can no longer afford to buy fuel which has now become very expensive. Yet we are suffering and smiling. What a pity! What a nation!
If officials cannot be stationed on third mainland bridge to prevent suicide, then why can’t the government erect barriers on this bridge to prevent people from jumping into the lagoon to end their lives when they’re depressed? Is this not possible? The government must as a matter of urgency erect very high barriers now on this bridge that will prevent suicide attempts there. Why allow people continue to tragically take their own lives on this bridge all the time without any preventive measures? We should value human lives as a nation and the government must do more to protect its citizens. Is it because he was a medical doctor, what about many more people who have committed suicide not only on third mainland bridge but in many other places they found themselves but the news never reported it? What about the many other talented people we’ve lost to avoidable suicide but were never reported by the media?
While my heart goes out to the family of the late doctor for this great loss, that may the good Lord give them the fortitude to bear the loss, we must realize that every Nigerian life is precious and must be protected. The government must be proactive and act before it’s too late. We cannot continue to lose more people to avoidable suicide even when we can prevent it in the first place.
*Tayo Demola, Human Rights Advocate & Relationship Counsellor, Lagos, Nigeria. Reach Him Via firstname.lastname@example.org