Comfort the Afflicted

Many Nigerians are depressed, and the less informed among them are committing suicide. The number of people who take their life in the country every day may never be known because only a fraction of the cases is reported. At the same time, the rate of sudden death in the country has also gone high. Likely, some of those reported dead before any sign of illness were people who took their own lives silently.

What is happening?

The bad times are certainly to blame: There are no jobs. There is little food. Businesses are collapsing. Mass poverty and insecurity are the results. In this nation of pretenders, however, many hide their want and deprivation in good clothing. But in the streets, unhappy faces are common: men in their 40s and 50s who have never been married, though they clutch university degrees; women in their 30s and 40s who are not getting suitors because the men are not ready for them. Out of frustration, many have turned to prostitution or crime. The men (and some women) have turned to drugs, hot drinks and cigarettes.

More people are dropping into the poverty cesspool every day, thanks to the failure of most government policies and programmes. Let everyone understand this and stop inflicting emotional trauma on themselves or on other Nigerians who are already distressed. It is out of desperation that so many young Nigerians have been perishing in the Mediterranean Sea and Sahara desert while trying to escape to Europe. Those who eventually reach Europe live in slavery or land in prisons from where they are deported back to Nigeria. Some women reportedly eat faeces in some countries!

The country is dying because schools have multiplied and have been churning out young people. Industries that should have accommodated school leavers have all folded up. Almost all of the nation’s funds circulate around government; even the few successful private businesses are those tied to the government. To make money in today’s Nigeria, you either become a public “servant” or collaborate with public “servants” to do overinflated or non-existent contracts or enjoy waivers for imported goods.  In many “juicy” government agencies like the NNPC, NDIC and Central Bank, many employees share surnames with serving or retired public “servants”.  The children of the unknown respond to advertisements, not knowing that they are helping to justify the employment letters already prepared for the children of the powerful and the influential.

Although hard times exist, they are not the major reason many Nigerians are losing hope and committing suicide, however. It is mainly because Nigerians are no longer their brother’s keeper. Worshipping of money has become the majority’s preoccupation now. The rich are celebrated even in religious houses; the poor are despised.

Where are the comforters of the afflicted? Where are the clerics preaching about morality rather than money? It is unfortunate that this country does not offer jobs to psychologists, psychotherapists and psychoanalysts. In their absence, religious houses should take their place by giving people hope. Clerics should comfort their troubled followers and not overburden them with monetary demands.

Many parents are equally guilty. They love their children that do well more than those who do not. Yet, they know it is not the fault of those who remain unemployed or fail to prosper. How many parents themselves are prosperous anyway? Mothers are often guiltier than fathers in this respect. For them, it is “no money, no friendship”. The kind of pressure they mount on their husbands could make many men go mad. Some women obviously like money without caring whether it was made by fair or foul means. But some who got married to criminals almost always end up in despair. Some have been used for money ritual. Divorce cases are soaring.

Depression is a treatable disease. A large number of women are susceptible to prenatal (before childbirth) depression or postnatal (after childbirth) depression. Husbands or relations who notice suicidal tendencies in an expectant or new mother should tell a doctor. It is not a manifestation of “spiritual attack” or “ogbanje” but depression.

Nigerians who can afford to go for regular checks abroad should kindly do so, for even the rich have been taking their own lives or succumbing to brief illnesses. The sudden death syndrome has been linked to several ailments including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems.  Regular checks of one’s health can arrest this slide. It costs little or nothing, for instance, to check for one’s blood pressure.

Poorer Nigerians should help themselves too. It is no longer advisable to wait for any government to solve their problems. So, anyone who wishes to stay alive should be conscious of their health needs and not depend on government. Intending couples should determine their blood group and genotype in order to avoid having children with sickle-cell disorder. And couples should not have many children: it is no longer easy to train even one child well. Having many children obviously leads to complex problems – and depression.

No matter the situation one finds themselves in, however, they should never contemplate suicide. It is an act of cowardice and foolishness. Wise people know that times change, and they therefore keep hope alive. No condition is permanent.

With: The Oracle Today

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