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Opinion: Depression Is Real But Suicide Is Irrational



Ismail Afolabi, Marble

With the increasing rate of suicidal deaths recently, suicide is now a major public health problem and a leading cause of death in Nigeria. These days, people really need a little more patience than they have. We have to drop our shades and clearly see that everyone, regardless of one’s background and/or social status, has peculiar challenges and travails.

I have interacted with quite a number of people. Those who are older than me, my contemporaries and the aged. The super rich, the poor and the median. I have neither seen a person whose life is perfect, nor anyone who has everything all figured out. Not even this writer.

Nor the much talked about billionaires, professionals, politicians and celebrities of this world. It appears that every mortal has a share of joy and disappointment. It appears that everyone has one or two issues to worry about. It appears that no one is free from random thoughts and confusion, sometimes but people only relate to issues differently. Some maturely, some irrationally.

If the narrative, “only those who walk in the painful shoe can perfectly understand where and how deadly it pinches”, is anything to go by, I am overqualified to give a voice to the campaign against suicide and sincerely bring to your notice that suicide is outright irrational.

My path is rough but I have always managed to stay afloat. I have been through and experienced a special kind of special depression. Apart from depression, mental disorders, including, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and substance abuse are risk factors of the deplorable but now common problem. And, depression is real but it is not a justification for anyone to commit suicide because of general but individualised disappointment and downside.

Hear me too! The last quarter of the year 2017 was hellish for me. My world was crippled and completely down. I was almost consumed. I was down by all standard. I couldn’t sleep, nor eat as I used to, for weeks and months. It was my lowest ebb and a terrible encounter with death.

Demolished. Stripped. And drained. At the long run, when my back was pinned against the wall and throat held by depression and complicated trauma, I held on to three things. For the very first time, I gave up the fight. I admitted my limit as a mere mortal, stopped asking why me and accepted my own share of disappointment. I admitted that anything can happen to anybody and that it is normal to feel weak, cry and confused.

I gave up the fight but stayed put on the battlefield. I held on to God and spent more time on my knees asking for divine direction. God personally gave me a second chance. In addition, my second and third views also helped. At bestial level, I would rather donate my organs to the needy and for the advancement of research than put an end to my life and waste away. Lailai!

At the third edge, I likened suicide to terrorism. In my view, they shared devastating similarities and just a difference. When terrorists strike, the victims of the attacks are merely the soft targets, the living and associates of the victims are the ultimate and prime target of the attacks.

The dead feels no pains. It is their families and loved ones that would forever live with bitter experiences and ugly memories. The same is for suicide. Just that the one in contention is limited to self-destruction with exact fallout as terrorism. Most families and loved ones of those who commit suicide, if not all, live with the bitter experiences and down in the dumps.

If you are concerned about someone’s actions and inaction, note that talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill him or herself; talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live; stockpiling pills; talking about great guilt or shame; talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions; Feeling unbearable pain, both physical or emotional; talking about being a burden to others; using substance more often; withdrawing from family and friends; changing eating and/or sleeping habits; taking risks that could lead to death; displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy, and giving away important possessions are all signs of possible self-injury or suicide.

They are signs of extreme distress and an alert that the encoder needs help. Lets face it, are you thinking of killing yourself? Answer the question silently but get it loud and clear, ineptness of our government and its officials’ mouth diarrhoea, unemployment, security threat here and there, economic drift and lot more are indeed enough for everyone to ponder on. But no man deserves to die because of a lady whose “mumu button” is with another man. No lady should die because of a man whose “mumu button” is with another lady.

If it’s about bills or serious distress, with little more patience, what is scarce today is most likely to be surplus tomorrow. And, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. If seeking for help will make you better, please let it out. Your sanity is important. Don’t ever end your life because of poor score in an examination or any distress whatsoever. The people we are looking up to all have a story to tell. Focus on your blessings, too. Some can not even think of striving towards what is bothering you, let alone getting it. God brought you thus far and He will see you through complicated stages of life and peculiar challenges.

Bury suicide thoughts. It is completely preposterous, nothing but a transfer of accumulated pains and unfortunate opening for passing troubles to individuals who ordinarily have enough to contend with. Any warning sign or symptom of suicide should not be ignored. All talk of suicide should be taken seriously and requires attention. An at-risk individual should speak up and/or cause to get help from someone who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions.

If someone is telling you that they are going to kill themselves, do not leave them alone. Do not promise anyone that you will keep their suicidal thoughts a secret. Make sure to tell a trusted friend or family member, or if you are a student, tell an adult with whom you feel comfortable. Nobody will get out of life alive, so there’s no point in rushing to the grave.

© Ismail Afolabi.