Worried by the increasing cases of suicide among Nigerian youths, the Save Our Women and Girls (SOW&G) Foundation recently brought together experts in the health and education sector to discuss ways of curbing the menace.
The event, which was part of activities marking this year’s International Day of the Family, also featured a workshop on how stay at home mothers and other women can earn an income from home and make a successful career from their passion.
According to the founder of the foundation, Ambassador Unyime-Ivy King, one of the goals of the foundation is family strengthening and because a teenager committing suicide is traumatic for the family, it decided to focus on the issue with a view to curbing it.
According it has been established that most youths resort to suicide as a result of poor academic performance; pressure from parents who compare their children with others and sometimes making them feel inferior or worthless; pressure from the social media.
Some youths are on social media prematurely and they get carried away by the show of affluence that in most cases is not real.”
A medical doctor and neuropsychologist, Dr. Deji Osasona highlighted four main causes of suicide among youths to include undue academic pressure by teachers or parents that are not emotionally intelligent; peer pressure, which can come in form of sexual issues, socialisation issues, class, as well as intimidation or bullying; financial pressure; and religio-cultural pressure.
“There is a level of genetic contribution to this, especially if there is an issue of mental health challenge in the family. There are also other associated background factors that can worsen or induce depression leading to suicide like substance abuse.”
He said before suicide, the victim must have been showing certain signs that were neglected or not noticed by parents, guardians, siblings, teachers or people around him/her. “So the first aid is to assess for any risk of suicide or harmful behaviour, for instance someone that is socially withdrawing from activities or people that he/she is used to; going against instructions even at the risk of his/her life, engaging in risky activities without caring. Someone that is always anticipating disaster happening to him/her; and feeling of hopelessness.”
Some of the ways to prevent suicide he said is by listening to the victim without judging them. This he said will make them trust and open up.
“Give reassurance, not an empty or fictitious one; identify the strength of the person and create an avenue to start practising that strength and teach them to affirm their strength each day. Ensure support, which can be in form of one’s presence in their lives, informational support, as well as encouraging professional help. We should also take responsibility for our happiness so as to perpetually live in happiness in spite of the challenges.”
The Principal of Corona Secondary School, Agbara, Mrs. Chinedum Oluwadamilola, stated that teenagers want to feel loved, accepted and important and to avoid undue emphasis on academic excellence; the school came up with recognising the different things that sttudents can do.
“The usual thing to recognise is academic excellence, but children have other abilities because they are human beings and we say there is an A* in every child. If a student is good in sports, he/she wears a different school tie; those who can act get a performing act pin, as well as those that are musically inclined and for those who are very good visual artists; we do that for public speakers as well as those who are good with community service.
“In all these, the students know that we don’t only recognise those who are academically sound but that what they do are also being recognised. Doing this affirms their abilities and helps them feel good about themselves and increases their self-worth.”
From the perspective of the youths, Miss Victory Yinka-Banjo, a senior secondary one student of Princeton College, Surulere said the causes of suicide include social isolation because a lot of times youths want to fit in and do what other people are doing and sometimes that doesn’t work out because everyone is unique.
She said the loss of a loved one or family crisis like divorce; bullying, which can make someone go into his/her shell; as well as pressure from various factors could also lead to suicide.
She said parents have to interact with their children, be their best friends and encourage them to take things one at a time and avoid pressure.