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Saturday, 17 December 2011

Love can conquer suicide

During the last summer holidays, I took my family up to Eastbourne, in East Sussex on the east coast of England to visit a good family friend. Eastbourne is a small, peaceful and a beautiful town with lovely beaches. It can be quite busy around that time of the year and attracts a fair share of visitors. This was quite evident as we drove through the town centre overlooking its pier and coastline. I took the picture below when we went up the hills from where you can get a stunning view of the sea front.
Whilst the picture may represent some uplifting beauty of nature, sadly I was told it's also notorious for suicide in the past by victims throwing themselves off the adjoining cliff not seen on this picture. The question I kept asking myself was how can a place harbour such beauty and peace and yet has become a place where sorrow and unhappiness is hidden away. I found myself asking the same question only recently following the sudden death of Wales National Football manager and veteran footballer, Gary Speed. Like many people, I just could not comprehend how someone who looked 'happy' a day earlier after making an appearance on a TV program would take his own life the next day. This incident happened only 3 weeks ago and since then there's been at least two other incidents reported by the UK media, one in Leicestershire and another in Leeds. In each case, the father killed his family and tragically took his own life. 

When I was growing up in Nigeria, suicide was something that I hardly heard or read about or maybe it was under-reported, I don't know. In a world where social networking is gradually taking over and challenging long held perceptions, it's inevitable issues like suicide will quite possibly creep into our thought processes. I know some may argue that Nigerians love life so much they can never contemplate doing such. But we said that for suicide bombers and is no longer news that cases of suicide bombing in Nigeria have been reported and sadly may continue to happen.

In the wake of these incidents, I've heard comments that suggests people who commit suicide are selfish. It's very easy to be judgemental but the point is that these things happen and would continue to do so. I would rather look for answers as to why it happens and find ways to create awareness to combat it instead of play the blame game. In my search for answers as to causes of suicide, I found there aren't any known causes of suicide. However, there are known factors that can make people more vulnerable to suicide. The one that stands out for me is having a mental health condition. I'm not a medical expert to give an expert opinion on issues to do with mental health but it wouldn't surprise you to note that there are many people walking around the streets who appear normal but in fact are burdened by all sorts of problems.

In the current gloomy economic climate around the world and in Nigeria where the gap between the rich and the poor are getting even wider, people need to support and reach out to each other. The world needs love to combat a lot of mental and suicidal problems. I believe there's enough love to go around the world but we all need to do our own bit. There's no better time to give and share some than this season of Christmas which seems to be losing its meaning to consumerism. But that's a topic for another day.


  1. Hmmm...indeed it is very sad that suicide is happening more and more these days.I agree with you that in as much as we have social media, we still need to reach out and support and love each other.

  2. Thats to tell you that the fact that the world is getting more developed and moving forward doesn't mean people are finding fulfilment in it.
    Depression has increased, sorrow, sadness and other negative things have increased.
    Looking for love and fulfilment in the wrong places and thigns will only cause more depression

  3. This post came right on time. I don't know why it's getting really rampant these days. God help us!!!

  4. Reaching out would certainly help a lot of suicidal people, as isolation tends to magnify the problem. Speaking as a MH professional, the problems go a lot deeper than that. Every individual copes differently and part of the strategy for management of suicidal thoughts is to find out what works for the particular individual in terms of containment and support. Of course if we don't know that something is wrong, that discussion would not take place. So part of the strategy has to be to de-stigmatize suicide and the whole notion of having a mental health issue - to encourage sufferers to come forward for help and support.

  5. @Myne, reaching out is definitely on the agenda.

    @ilola, I agree that factors that lead to suicide are on the rise but I believe we all have a role to offer love and support where we can.
    @MsJB, God will certainly help us but we can also help ourselves and help others too.

    @Adura, your professional insight is very much valued and provides better understanding about how to deal with mental health issues. I completely agree regarding de-stigmatising sufferers but we should instead try and understand why it's happening in the first place.

  6. It's definitely saddening hearing about suicides. I once said that it wasn't that much in Africa but thanks to social media i'm starting to have a rethink. Love is really all we need. Not just any kind of love but God's love. That's what gives hope

  7. I agree with you on support. The holidays especially can encourage people to come together, but they can also remind people of not so pleasant times. I would attribute suicide to hopelessness ...

    On a happier note, I want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  8. @The Relentless Builder, thank you for the Christmas wishes and wishing you too warmest Christmas blessings and a prosperous new year ahead. :)

  9. Adura's point about de-stigmatising mental issues is so on point. My colleague did a study on students and depression. Some of the students who had had depressive episodes spoke of un-empathic friends and classmates who will tell them to 'snap out of it' etc when they want to talk. So like you suggested, reaching out and listening goes a long way.

  10. Thank you Ginger, it was interesting to read about the study on depression by your colleague. It shows there's a real problem that needs to be confronted.



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