By Emeka Oparah
Many years ago, a young friend cried to me how his marriage was about to pack up because his wife was tired-after having not had a child since they got married five years earlier-and wanted to leave him. He also cited the pressures, the expenses, the shame, the blame and the games.
I calmly listened and gave him some advice as the spirit led me. He took my word, and two years later they had a son and later a daughter. I never mentioned my own predicament. I really never did, until another friend outed me during my 50th, one year after our twins were born (15 years after we got married)!
My now happy young friend told me he must have read that Facebook post a zillion times to be sure it was me. When he called me, I told him I didn’t think he came to me to listen to my own problems but to find succor and so I didn’t bother telling him of my own situation. In actual fact, I told him our story claiming it was another couple.
Now, I’m saying, like some of you quite rightly say too, we all have issues. As we say in Mbaise, all lizards are lying on their stomachs and you can’t tell which one is or isn’t having stomach pains! I know, and I can say for sure, my young friend is still in shock (understandably so) I could “hide” my own problems and help him solve his own.
What am I really saying? I’m saying the rising spate of suicides, I think is due to many reasons. One, a disturbing but blossoming culture of entitlement, which makes people to believe others are indebted to them and must come to their rescue. Two, an equally disturbing culture of egocentricity, which makes people who should spare a thought or two once in a while for others-I mean be their neighbors’ keeper-only focus on themselves. They hedonistically flaunt their wealth and comfort to the depression of others who are desperately in need.
Thirdly, there is the growing influence of social media, which has made it possible to demystify things like suicide, which, traditionally and Biblically, are taboos. Social media is one phenomenon that might lead eventually to the end of the world, if care is not taken. I’ve argued that it mightn’t be that more people are committing suicide but social media has provided a platform for people to vocalize their intentions and, of course, for others to share the stories.
Fourthly, there are way too many shattered dreams all over the Nigerian landscape! The government and our leaders have failed us, pathetically. Some parents have also failed in their duties to their children. Someone recently argued there’s nothing bad in having many children even in the face of a glaring incapability to take care of them. Still, many are disappointed at the benumbing shortage of amenities, infrastructure and jobs. The youths and the elderly both are all but jaded.
Lastly and by no means the least, perhaps indeed the first, is the gravitation towards Godlessness. It’s a conundrum, isn’t it, that as we are growing rapidly in religiosity, we are declining speedily in Godliness. For someone to even contemplate suicide is a glaring indication of an unfortunate disconnection from the Great Architect of the Universe. Where are our religious leaders? What are they preaching?
Let’s stop the entitlement culture and stop killing ourselves and others. Let’s share our problems with others. Let’s offer our shoulders to others in their time of need, without detriment to ourselves or our connections. Let’s endeavor to put in power men and women who can change things, may be not our individual destinies, but the destiny of our country-so our collective destinies can be changed. And please, let’s truly get closer to God, for in the end, He’s the author and finisher of our lives.
• Oparah, a Communication specialist, writes from Lagos