Experts, religious leaders raise concern as suicide rate rises in South East zone

Experts, religious leaders raise concern as suicide rate rises in South East zone

  • Religious leaders, experts worry as suicide rate goes high in South East
  • Experts link suicide to hardship, depression
  • Religious leaders advocate closeness to God for suicide solution

In recent time, there has been growing rate of suicide among youths in the South East zone.  Every month, the media is being inundated with the ugly incident of young people in the zone taking their life instead of facing the harsh realities of life.

While the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not criminalise suicide, it clearly stipulates punishment for cases of attempted suicide.

According to Section 327 of the Criminal Code Act of Nigeria, suicide attempt in Nigeria is a criminal act.

The code reads that “any person who attempts to kill himself is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for one year.”

Pastor Igboke: Allegedly committed suicide

Section 325 further states that “any person who procures another to kill himself; or counsels another to kill himself and thereby induces him to do so, or aids another in killing himself is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for life.”

In any case, in the South East zone, and indeed African countries as a whole, while many suicides are seen as spiritual, others are equally looked upon as cruel pay back on certain bad done to friends, community or associates.

For this, many suicides are linked to act of revenge by one deity or another who might have been invoked by an aggrieved and affected members of the society.

This is a belief system that has long been engraved in the thinking and psychology of African society so much so that many don’t believe in the otherwise.

In any case, on August 25, 2023 a pastor of a Pentecostal Church in Nnewi, Anambra State allegedly committed suicide over a failed relationship.

The pastor identified as Pastor Prosper Igboke, allegedly committed the heinous act after he jumped down from a two-storey building in Nnewi.

However, sources in the area said Igboke jumped down from the two-storey building and died instantly after he was jilted by his lover, whom he had spent so much on.

Nevertheless, a relative of the deceased who spoke to journalists on Saturday, said the 30-year-old man from Leru community in Umunneochi Local Government Area, Abia State, had trained his lover in the university, after which she declined his marriage proposal.

Comrade Ezeagu: Suicide has nothing to do with deity

According to the relative, “the incident happened last month. The man (Igboke) was 30 years old at the time of his death. His girlfriend, whom he intended to marry disappointed him after seeing her through the university.

“He jumped down from a two-storey building and died. I am surprised that a man of this age and a pastor can do this.”

According to their village tradition and that of many other Igbo communities, such a person will be buried inside bush.

“He was eventually buried on Friday in a bush in his community,” our source added.

However, when contacted, the state police spokesman, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, said the incident was not brought before the police command.

“There is no information like that before me, and I want to also thank you for the privileged information. I will escalate this to the police manager within the area for necessary action, please,” Ikenga added.

However, before the Anambra incident, on September 22, 2022, it was reported that a middle-aged man identified as Austine (Biggy) has allegedly committed suicide at Umunwalo off CGG road Irete, Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State.

WITHIN NIGERIA gathered that the deceased, who hailed from Awo- Idimili, Orsu LGA, reportedly hanged himself in the early hours of  that Thursday.

Augustine, father of one  was said to have died by hanging himself on a ceiling fan in his room.

It was also gathered that the gory incident threw the entire neighbourhood, especially the residents around the first bus stop, Umuoyo village into shock and mourning.

Speaking to newsmen, a neighbour of the deceased , Deacon Dan Opara stated that no suicide note was discovered but witnesses said his action might not be unconnected with economic hardship or failed marriage from his wife who reportedly left with his child after dumping him for another man.

According to Deacon Opara the reason the deceased took his own life is not known as he was reported to look hale and hearty the last time he was seen by his neighbours before he committed the suicide.

Explaining how they discovered his lifeless body another neighbour who pleaded anonymity said the co-tenant had knocked severally with no response but rather perceived a strange odour suspected to be chemical oozing out from within.

WITHIN NIGERIA gathered that it was at that point that the neighbours forced open the door only for them to find him dead, with foam and blood in his mouth and nostrils. It is unfortunate that the young man decided to commit suicide.

Fr. Obe: Society has a role in reducing suicide rate

“For some time now he had been behaving like someone who had a mental health problem.”

Also On August 17, 2022 a 500-level student of the Michael Okpara University Of Agriculture Umudike, MOUAU, Abia State, identified as Modestus Hyacinth Egbulefu, allegedly committed suicide after taking hard drug in Ikwuano council area ,Abia State.

Egbulefu, who is a student of the Department of Electrical/Electronic Engineering was said to have jumped from the 3 storey building identified as Groom Base Lodge, after allegedly taking some substances suspected to be ”Mkpulu mmiri.”

It was reported that the incident occurred at about 9:40am at the lodge even  other students were shocked at the incident and tried in vain to revive him.

Sources told newsmen that he died on the spot before he could receive medical attention.

It was further gathered that his corpse has been deposited at an undisclosed  mortuary in the area.

The Police Public Relations Officer ,Abia State Command,SP Geoffrey Ogbonna, was unsuccessful as he couldn’t respond to a call and text message sent to his mobile number.

The September 22, 2022 incident seemed to have opened a flood gate of suicides for the youths in the zone, at least in the last one year.

On October 15, 2022, a middle aged man identified as Jeremiah Chibueze Ugwuoke from Owere Ibagwa-Ani Nsukka local government of Enugu state allegedly killed himself by hanging on top of a tree for an undisclosed hardship.

Dr. Ugwu: Depression causes suicide

In a written suicide note he dropped before carrying  out the sacrilegious act, Ugwuoke  wrote thus;

“My mother remain the most wonderful woman on earth mom I will miss you people, I will die in my compound and pls you people should burry me in the compound.”

Whether his wish was fulfilled, our reporter could not independently verify as at press time.

However, WITHIN NIGERIA source who then spoke to our reporter explained that “this young man has been telling me that things are very hard for him. I kept on encouraging him to keep on keeping on but I did not know that he would end up like this.”

Another source told our reporter that “according to a reliable source he has been complaining of hardship and that the world means nothing to him anymore, but nobody took him serious till he committed suicide. Some are of the opinion that a certain deity is after him, while some are of the opinion that he is mentally unstable.

According to our investigation, Ugwuoke who in his early thirties has been living a solitary life for some time before the ugly incident this morning.

Further checks revealed that the victim was a graduate who finished his NYSC in 2021 before joining  MTN Nigeria as a Marketer.

A villager who spoke to our reporter said that ” it was very early this morning when people came out and saw the late Chibueze hanging on top of a tree near their compound.”

One of the villagers said that suicide is never a solution to difficulties. He should have told a friend his problems.

However, three days later, another youth allegedly committed suicide in Enugu state.

This time around, the victim was a female self-acclaimed prophetess in Igogoro Agu, Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State identified as Prophetess Anthonia Okwor.

The prophetess allegedly took her own life that fateful Sunday over a yet-to-be-identified cause as she did not leave any suicide note behind.

WITHIN NIGERIA gathered that the prophetess who was admired, respected, and held in high esteem by her followers, left her prayer ground on Sunday afternoon and was nowhere to be found until some persons saw her dead body dangling on top of a tree inside the bush.

Prophetess Okwor, was the founder and general overseer of a prayer ministry at Igogoro Agu community.Further checks revealed that the prayer ministry specialized in chasing away demons from people.

An eyewitness who spoke to WITHIN NIGERIA stated that “the said victim was a Prophetess. She prayed for people regularly and got them delivered. In fact, she specialized in casting away stubborn demons from people’s life. How she decided to take her own life was a big surprise to all of us.”

Another eyewitness also said that “we were supposed to go see her on Sunday afternoon for a prayer programme. When we went to her prayer ground, we couldn’t see her. We went back to our various houses only to hear later in the evening that she has killed herself by hanging on top of a tree. This is very bad. Too bad.”

On whether she has complained of anything before the ugly incident, the eye witness explained that “she never told us of anything.

“In fact, she was the one consoling people who were in difficulties. By virtue of her character and behaviour, she did not complain of anything that can lead her to this ugly incident.”

The prophetess, our reporter gathered was still in her early 30s and has been cheerful and jovial before the unfortunate incident.

Experts/spiritual leaders speak on the phenomenon

In a chat with our reporter, a social critic, Comrade Thomas Ezeagu described the situation as appalling.

Comrade Ezeagu, Enugu-based author of a book entitled “Suicides” said that “though I had never attempted suicide, and I will never even do so, but I had been through some circumstances that one who is not emotionally disciplined could consider suicide.

“My research showed that most people, especially the teeming youths are faced with endangering and subduing challenges which have proven difficult to solve. Let’s take a look at our students in different higher institutions.

“They get messed up and frustrated by the attitudes of some uncontrollable lecturers. These lecturers make learning and graduating a herculean task for students.

Prof Obayi: You have no right to kill yourself

“Those who cannot meet up with their demands will be frustrated, dejected and depressed by the consequent actions of these lecturers.”

Stressing further, Comrade Ezeagu said that “specifically, some youths grow without orientations on the ups and downs of this life.

“They grow to believe that things should always be well with them no matter what, so that, if there is a delay or distortion of their expectations, they become emotionally traumatized.

“Let’s take a brief look at the statistics. Nigeria for instance, is ranked 15th in the world and 7th in Africa for suicide rates.

These rankings were determined before the Covid-19 pandemic which goes to imply that, in no distant time, there will be depression in various economies of the world, with Nigeria and her imminent recession not going unscathed.”

Explaining the relationship between suicide and supernatural forces, Ezeagu said that “generally, this social vice is mainly occasioned by the high rate of unfavourable competitions among the unequals. Suicide has nothing to do with supernatural influences or deity – I don’t believe this myth.

“However, I know that severe depression has a lot to do with this issue. You really need to know what depression does to its victims – it strips its victims all forms of hope. As a victim of depression, your morality and rationality will be lost, so that, you will not see any glimpse of hope in yourself.

“It is at this time that suicide becomes the inevitable path to toe as it will be seen as the only way out of the emotional pains and discomforts that come with depression.”

In his chat with our reporter, a Catholic Priest of Nsukka Diocese, Very Rev. Fr.  Cornelius Obe described suicide as a totally wrong option for any human being.

Fr. Obe who is also an author a book entitled, “Human life is sacred, Why Suicide”, stressing that “all the arguments posited so far to justify suicide are morally wrong and insufficient. This is because suicide is intrinsically bad, no amount of argumentation or reasoning can right the wrongness of suicide.”

On the morality of suicide, Fr. Obe further said that ” many cultures, philosophers, theologians etc answered “no” to these questions. For instance, in ancient Europe, a horse draws a suicide to a place of punishment and shame, where he is hanged on a gibbet and non may take the body down but by the authority of a magistrate.

“Suicide is also condemned by most of the world religions. For the Moslems, the Koran declared the act of suicide as a crime worse than homicide. Judaism and Christianity condemn it as flouting God’s will and spurning the temple provided for the soul.

“Thomas Aquinas also based his first argument against suicide on natural law. He believes that whoever commits suicide is acting the law of nature.

“Another reason why suicide is morally bad is that it is usurpation of God’s right. Only God has an absolute power over human life. By committing suicide, a man assumes the right of God and claims absolute ownership over his life.”

On the role of the society to curb the menace, Fr. Obe stated that, ” suicide is a general concern and everybody should help in providing solutions to it. The role of the society in this respect cannot be over-emphasized.

“Incidences have shown that most of the people that commit suicide are somehow isolated by the society. Some people are isolated or ostracized by the society because of one crime or the other, while others are isolated simply because of their nature; either because they are black or because they are “Osu” or as a result of some incurable deadly diseases like Leprosy, AIDS etc.”

However, in a chat with Dr. Fabian Ugwu Department of Psychology, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State, he decried the high rate of suicide in the country.

Dr. Ugwu described suicide as a reaction to stressful life situation.

On what could possible cause this heinous crime, Dr. Ugwu told our reporter that “suicide could possible be as a result of economic hardship. When one cannot afford his/her basic needs, this may lead to depression.

“And when depression reaches to stuporous level, one will begin to think about suicide or have what we call suicide ideation.”

On the symptoms of suicide, Dr. Ugwu explained that ” some symptoms of suicide could be seen when one begins to make utterances  like ” I wish I was dead” or  something like that.

“When one begins to withdraw from the society for instance, you see somebody who has been very sociable, all of a sudden, such person begins to withdraw from people and society.

“Another symptom of suicide is mood swing. Somebody will be happy this moment and the next moment the person will be sad. Again increase use of alcohol or substance can also lead to suicide.”

Dr. Ugwu, however advised parents to watch over their children or wards to know when issues of this nature arise.

In any case, speaking recently on the high rate of suicide in the zone, the Spiritual Director, Okunerere Adoration Ministry, Nsukka, Rev. Fr. Prof. Martin Obayi stressed that ” our youths should know that they are the leaders of tomorrow. I don’t see any reason any of them or anybody for that matter should think about committing suicide.

“Suicide is not an option at all. Anybody who kills himself has committed unpardonable sin and crime against God.”

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