No fewer than 42 Nigerians, among them 11 students, who committed suicide within the first and second quarters of this year alone. Majority of the victims ended their lives by consuming the deadly insecticide called sniper while others either drank acid or set selves on fire, Daily Trust investigation reveals.
He was a promising and budding poet. At the department of English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he was an undergraduate, many saw him taking after notable Nigerian poets such as the legendary Christopher Okigbo. But barely a year to his graduation tragedy struck. Ironically this young 400-level student killed his dreams by taking his own life. On May 13, 2019, the body of Chukwuemeka Akachi was discovered by a passerby after he had successfully executed his suicide mission in the solitude of an uncompleted building located at the Sullivan Road, Nsukka. He was said to have slipped into coma after taking two bottles of the deadly insects’ killer called sniper. Although a passerby reportedly rushed Akachi to the UNN Federal Medical Centre in an effort to revive him it was too late as he was declared dead at the hospital. Shortly before his demise Akachi was said to have posted a suicide note on his Facebook wall which waxed poetic. “Forgive me. In case you are the one who found the body, I am really sorry. It had to be someone you know. I have chosen Jo Nketaih’s poem as my suicide note: They said you came looking for me. I don’t drown, I was the water. Where do atheists go when they die? Lol. Amen”, the note read, according to a close friend.” The friend who sought identity protection also said Akachi’s suicide note attributed his action to his deteriorating mental health. “My mental health has been on life support for a while now. Thanks to those who called, texted and visited. Speak to me. May we always remember. May we never forget. You may have added a few hours, months or days to my time here. But you know life support is expensive right? Thank you for trying. Amen…”
As if visited by the spectre of death, Samuel Elias, 25, another final year student of the department of Religion and Culture, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) also committed suicide early last week by drinking the deadly chemical, Sniper. The mother of the deceased, Mrs. Kate Elias a staff of the university, said the unfortunate incident happened on Monday June 17, around 5.30pm in her house at Justina Eze Street Nsukka. “I came back from work on that fateful day and discovered that the mood of my first child was bad and he was staggering when he came to collect a bottle of coke from the fridge. I followed him immediately to his room and started talking to him but he could not respond and when I looked closely, I discovered that his teeth had tightened up. “As I looked around, I saw an empty Sniper bottle. At this point I raised alarm and my other children rushed to the room and we tried to give him palm oil but his tightened teeth did not allow the oil to enter his mouth,” she said. Mrs. Kate said Samuel was immediately rushed to Faith Foundation Hospital, Nsukka and was later referred to Bishop Shanahan Hospital, Nsukka, where he eventually died. Before his death the deceased student was said to have been lamenting over his inability to graduate from UNN because of his final year project which had been holding him back.
Unlike Akachi and Samuel whose suicide cases were attributed to mental health and inability to graduate, Christabel Omoremime Buoro, a 21 year old 300-level student of the department of Medical Laboratory Science, University of Benin (UNIBEN), reportedly killed herself over her being jilted by boyfriend. On June 18, 2019 her lifeless body was discovered in her hostel flat at Plot 4 Uwaifo lane, Newton Street, Ekosodin area, behind the university fence over her alleged breakup with her boyfriend. Like Akachi Christabel was said to have mixed the deadly Sniper chemical with a bottle of Sprite drink. She left a suicide note where she reportedly stated that she was about taking her life because her boyfriend broke up with her.
Elsewhere in Delta state, Uzakah Timi Ebiweni, a 300 level medical student of the Niger Delta University (NDU) ended his life. Ebiweni took a fatal plunge into a river close to the university campus, Amassoma, located in the Southern Ijaw area council of the state after failing his examination. He was among about 50 students out of 169 who sat for the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) exam but failed. It was gathered that as a general practice every student passes the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) exams before progressing to the next level of academic pursuit. However, Ebiweni and 21 others were said to have failed beyond the level that they could be placed on academic probation for another academic year hence they had to be withdrawn. Although he was said to have accepted the decision of the college in good faith after being counseled and informed about the fact that he would be withdrawn from college, the University was to later be confronted with the tragedy that the young man took his own life.
Earlier on April 27, 2019 a 100-level student of the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Hikmat Gbadamosi, allegedly committed suicide. The Chemical Engineering Department student ended his life after she consumed two bottles of the deadly chemical, Sniper, on the fateful Saturday. Hikmat who was the assistant course representative of students at her level had missed a test previously and some of her course mates who were apprehensive about her whereabouts went to look for her at her lodge in the Aluu area of Rivers State.
Unfortunately, her lifeless remains were later discovered even as some of her friends citing a video clip of the deceased that had surfaced on the internet after her death claimed that she had suffered from depression. The instances cited above were among 42 reported cases of suicide that occurred in different parts of the country between January and June this year.
Checks by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that 11 out of the victims were students that were undergoing various studies in different higher institutions of learning in the country. Apart from the students, 31 other Nigerians from different walks of life also committed suicides during the period in review. Among them was the case of double-tragedy that occurred in Ikare-Akoko in Akoko North-East Local Government Area of Ondo State where a middle-aged killed self after allegedly beating his mother to death. The incident which occurred at Oyinmo Quarters area of the community in April where the two deceased hailed from followed a heated argument, which led to fisticuffs between the son identified as Gbenga and his mother known as Ajimo. Gbenga allegedly hit his mother which resulted in her death on the fateful Thursay. But after realizing that he had killed his 57-year-old mother, Gbenga was said to have fled Akure to their family house in Ikare-Akoko where he subsequently committed suicide.
In yet another case a gospel artiste with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Michael Arowosaiye, was said to have hanged himself with his belt at Sunnyvale Estate, Lokogoma District Abuja. The deceased, who ministered during a recent youth praise event at the church, was allegedly depressed over the cancellation of his proposed wedding. Earlier on March 13 this year, a building collapse in Lagos Island had led to a mother committing suicide after she lost her two children in the incident. The deceased, it was gathered, could not bear the pains of living without her two children, aged between four and six, who she had given birth to through caesarean operation.
A review of the suicide cases showed that 15 suicide cases were recorded during the month of April, 10 were recorded earlier in May while 6 were witnessed earlier in January. The months of February and March recorded 2 and 3 cases of suicide respectively during the same period. Our checks further showed that sixteen of the suicide cases occurred in five states of the South-West part of the country with Lagos topping the pack with 11 cases. Oyo State recorded 2 cases while Ekiti, Ogun and Ondo had one case each. The South-South zone recorded 7 suicide cases within the period under review in 4 states namely: Edo (2), Delta (2), Bayelsa (2) and Rivers (1).
Similarly, 6 suicide cases were recorded in the 3 South-East states of Anambra (6), Ebonyi (1) and Enugu (1). The North-Central zone recorded 5 cases in 4 states involving 2 in Kogi with 1 each in Benue, Kwara and Nasarawa while the North West zone recorded 3 cases in two states; Kano (2) and Jigawa (1). Two cases were recorded 2 North-East states where Borno and Bauchi states recorded 1 suicide case each.
No thanks to ‘Sniper’
While 16 of the victims died after consuming the deadly chemical commonly called snipper 15 others committed suicide by hanging. Four other victims died by setting themselves ablaze either with patrol or inside their vehicles. Two victims died by drinking acid, one by jumping atop a telecom mast while another victim jumped inside a river. A study by the Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN), conducted at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), revealed that “out of every 66 suicide victims cumulatively recorded in 2018, only about 37.9 per cent committed or attempted it through conventional means, while nearly 62.1 per cent bade life farewell through the consumption of poison, especially the deadly chemical- Sniper.” Last week, the federal government placed a restriction on the sale and use of the fatal agro-chemical product, Sniper which has found its way into the hands of youths, who have continued to use it to commit suicide. The government’s directive, which was reportedly made public in Ibadan, is to be enforced by the National Food, Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC). Director, Veterinary Medicine and Allied Products Directorate, Dr Bukar Usman Usman, who spoke at the launch of a new herbicide for cassava farmers, “Lifeline”, produced by UPL, Springfield Agro and IITA, explained that the agency had asked agro-dealers to stop the sale of the product in the open market and supermarkets.
Why suicide is on the rise- Psychologist
According to Mr. Samul Adekunle Junaidu, a clinical psychologist, suicide cases are on the rise in Nigeria because a lot of people have mental illness but are oblivious about it. “I think it goes down to the kind of awareness in our environment where you see somebody all dressed up very well but when the person tells you that he or she has mental illness you ignore thinking maybe he or she is not very serious. “Again, mental illness plays a large role in people attempting and committing suicide. This could result from stress, overwhelming situation, it could be because of depression; there are several situations, where an individual could commit suicide,” he said. On the choice of the killer insecticide Sniper, Junaidu said suicide victims resort to it because it is handy and affordable. “The snipper is very lethal and doesn’t cause severe pain, that’s why you see people use it especially when they feel caged and their situation does not have a head way,” he said.