This paper is to be presented in the NADESSTU year one welcome party on Sunday 16th June, 2019 at Ebenikiri Town Hall, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State. All attendees are expected to download this material and follow during the presentation as no hard copy will be distributed at the event. Presentation will be on the slide.
Download full material here in pdf: Suicide, not an Option – by Michael Jules
Good day dear NADESSTU students. It is my pleasure to be around celebrating your matriculation and now welcome party with you today. It has indeed been an exhilarating event.
But why depression at this time? Why bring up suicide at this time of jubilation? Is it really necessary? When this topic was brought to me, the first thing that comes into my mind is “very good initiative, but why now? Despite the fact that we may want to reason that this topic is not right at this time, the overwhelming cases of suicidal attempts in the country especially amongst Nigerian students has made this topic overwhelmingly exigent at this hour.
Just last month here, a 300 level Medicine student of the Niger Delta University committed suicide because he failed an exam that will qualify him to continue as a medical student and is expected to transfer to another Faculty. The parents were reportedly not helpful in the matter as their expectation and reactions afterwards triggered the boy to take his life by jumping in the Amassoma river. Sure, the news goes round enough to filter into your ears. The major problem here is that if you do not set your feet in the right path, issues will come up later and you will begin to feel tired, frustrated, depressed and this is the right environment for suicidal attempt to filter in.
What is Suicide all About?
Suicide has been largely defined as taking one’s life. This perspective has been widely understood and used by the layman. However, from a more complex and different dimension, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (n.d.) defined suicide as when people direct violence at themselves with the intent to end their lives, and they die as a result of their actions. The World Health Organization, WHO (2011) on its part defines suicide as ‘the act of killing oneself, deliberately initiated and performed as a result of depression.
Also read: Teenage Depression
It is estimated that globally, about one million deaths occur from suicide every year; which roughly translates to one suicide death every forty seconds. The incidence of attempted suicide is twenty-five times more common than completed suicide. It is also the most important cause of violent death worldwide, accounting for 49% of all cases (Ibid).
Now, the question is “why do students commit suicide?” We, most times, are concerned with criticizing those who engaged in the act, very few had cared about the underlying causes. Well, the answer is not far-fetched. Various authorities (Dawood, Mitsu, Ghadeer, & Alrabodh, 2017; Faeq, 2016 and Ashraful, Low, Tong, Yuen, and Abdullah, 2018) has fingered depression as a major cause of students’ actual suicide and suicidal attempt. What then is depression and what activities can degenerate into depression?
What is Depression?
Depression can be defined from various perspectives. It has to do with your emotions and feelings. According to Jose (2018), the word depression was coined from the Latin word “depressio” which refers to “sinking”. The person in question often feels sunk with a weight on their very existence. It is a type of mood disorder that varies from normal transient low mood in daily life to clinical syndrome, and sometimes with severe and significant duration and associated signs and symptoms, markedly different from normal life situation. The above definition indicates that depression can take different dimensions with various length/duration.
However, the American Psychiatric Association (2017) puts depression this way:
a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
A major point of emphasis from this definition is “a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed”. This indicates that when depression sets in, the school you so desire to come will then disinterest you. You will prefer to stay alone and no longer wish to mingle with your regular mates/peers.
Depression often comes in various forms. You may notice you are feeling sad or having a depressed mood. Sometimes, you lose interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy. In other cases, there may be changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting. You experience trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of energy or increased fatigue, increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others). When you are depressed, you can also feeling worthless (inferiority complex) or guilty, difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions and consequently, thoughts of death or suicide may creep in.
What Can Make A Student to be Depressed?
Various issues can make a student attempt suicide. They include but not limited to poor financing of education by sponsors, academic failure which result from poor preparation, relationship issues, debts and lots more. However, according to Michael (2019), the causes of frustration (which are also forms of depression) amongst students includes financial lack, emotional stress, relationships, grade and religion. However, for the purpose of this discuss, the following are enumerated;
- Poor Financing: Poor financing here refers to inability of sponsors (Parents, guardians, relations, etc) to adequately pay for all the needs of a student in a university. Today, many students based their education on hopes, expectation, and on “that uncle that always fails”. Talk to them about it, they will tell you “God will do it”. Again, many of these students are Christians and I refer to them in the words of Professor Yemi Osinbajo as having “the illusion of prosperity that frequently distorts our understanding of the actual fragility of our economy” (Osinbajo, 2019). Because of this illusion, many come to the University without a tangible sponsor and largely unprepared. At the end, many students are frustrated when things do not turn out the way they expect. In fact, many has left their school altogether because of the continuous frustration of poor or no funding from parents.
- Academic Failure: I remembered in 2010, I met a friend at the main field, a course mate. His face was looking extensively pale. What happened to you Patrick? I inquired. Are you ok? Do you loss somebody? “Na my result o my brother”, he replied looking rather facially paled. His reply sent laugh into my ribs, although I have to hold myself not to look sarcastic. Patrick looked downcast, depressed and despondent all because of result. This is what happens when you see your first semester result especially when it is very poor. When you perform poor, this feeling of inferiority complex will start creeping in and you will start seeing the students who scored higher as better students. But this is just a perception because if you push your preparation up a little, you will also perform well.
- Relationship Issues/Emotions: Now, some students have extreme emotional issues. Their heart cannot carry heartbreaks. The case may even be worse off when the student in question is very much in love with a heartbreaker. The very thoughts of “how can I live without him/her” may be unbearable and in some cases, this thought has resulted in depression and consequent actual suicide.
- Debts: There was a story of a man who went to retrieve his debt from a debtor. On getting there, the debtor wanted to commit suicide. The creditor shouted “how dare you attempt suicide when you still owe me? That is a sign of disrespect!” Although this is just a mere story, the fact remains that debt has resulted to suicide. Within the students’ community, debt can also creep in if you are buying or spending more than what you receive from your sponsors or earn as a worker or businessman/woman. Take a purview of your expected/actual income and spend in accordance with what you envisage. Never spend more to impress anyone. Who is really watching you when everyone is thinking how to excel? It is only those you imagine that are looking that are really looking and all these happens in your imagination. So, avoid debts, live according to your means.
- Religion: While religion has always contributed to the well being of the students, especially from the morality perspective, it has also contributed to the misery of students emotion-wise. How? Note that school environment is infested with female and male students. Here, relationships sparks every day. From these relationships comes everyday sexual intercourse. Then, your pastor is waiting for you on Sunday. All the preaching here and there will make you have a rethink of your life and make u-turn. Nevertheless, next week, you are back again into your relationship life “because man cannot live on bread alone”. This circle of repent and redo, repent and redo… causes frustration for those whose conscience are still intact.
- Anxiety: (Contributor – Comr. Manuchisoh): Anxiety can be detrimental to your well being and can lead to a high level depression. Anxiety can come when you are expecting money from someone to solve a problem and there is delay. Anxiety can also come in when you anticipate poor performance. Anxiety can also be debilitating when you get into trouble and you are expecting a negative outcome. This can degenerate into depression if you do not find solution to it on time
- Studying a Programme that is not Interesting for a Student: (Contributor – Merit Austin): From the secondary school period, students have aspirations for their future. These aspirations are converted into programmes of study which leads students to choose a particular field of endeavour in the university. Nevertheless, sometimes, parents choose something different from what students wants for them. At some other times, university admission process which could not accommodate all applicants sees some students being admitted into a course far different from what they want. From Medicine to Philosophy, from Law to Religious studies, From Engineering to Education – the list is endless. Because of this, most students reject their admission, and for those who could not bear to stay at home again manage the course they are offered and study it grudgingly. This causes a serious depression to students especially in their first two sessions.
- The PHD (Pull Him Down) Syndrome: (Contributor: Ogagarue Triumphant): Within the academic environment, both educators and students are largely caught up in this pull him down syndrome. Lecturers have been mostly fingered/accused of failing students. In one particular case, the lecturer thought the boy was dating a girl he too was showing interest. So, the boy failed the course for first time. It was by Divine providence that the lecturer and the girl (student) in question were discussing about the boy that the lecturer alluded to the boy as someone always taking them (the girl and her friends) to bar. It was then that the girl denied it that the boy don’t even go close to bars, that he is the religious type who always take lead positions in church. It was from then that the boy passed the course. There are tens of other cases of this scenario – and even more cases left unreported/unknown. Although these students claiming a lecturer failed them for relationship conflicts may have actually failed themselves, however, the fact that some cases are actually caused by some lecturers cannot be put aside because I too have stories to tell of some other categorical cases.
- Sex for Grades: The fact that lecturers now shamefully request for sex for pass marks is no longer making headline because it has become virtually a cliché. Consequently, students who will not subject themselves to their demand end up with unending failure. Those who have nowhere to cry to bore the brunt. Some either end up being frustrated continually till they land themselves in extra year or even give up at the end, accepting their offer since society in general has failed them. I had a colleague in 2009 in my undergraduate. If you know this girl, you will think she is the runs girl type (surely, we have students who even avail themselves to lecturers). But I was surprised that when the lecturer requested for sex from her, she rejected the lecturer. This particular lecturer in the Education terrain sees himself as the owner of the school that no one can do him anything. This girl rejected him to the extent she had extra year. I couldn’t tell how the story ended since we have graduated then, but all I could imagine is the level of frustration and depression that this girl must have gone through. This case is not restricted to the NDU alone, it is a country-wide affair. I remembered my sister till date could not attain her certificate from the College of education, Warri because one lecturer was asking her out and she refused. Years after trying to complete her extra year courses, everything looks so frustrated and she just left everything all together. You can just imagine the heartless nature of some lecturers. This is a major cause of frustration amongst students. In fact, there is another case of depression caused by the same lecturer referred to above, this student later agreed to sleep with him, she cried all day to the person reporting to me and even hated him because my friend couldn’t deliver her (please, refer to the recommendation session to read how to handle these issues when they arise).
- Pressure from Parents to Excel (Contributor: Ozubide Wonderful): An example to buttress this point cannot be far-fetched. The case of the NDU Medical student who committed suicide recently is a very good example. In fact, sources close to the boy who perused through his chat with a friend indicated that the boy told his friend in the chat that his father called him a failure, disappointment and never to come to the house again. What is more to say? Truly, no parent want failure as a payback for sponsorship, nevertheless, the fact that biological capacity can limit a student’s performance should not be put aside.
- Chronic Illness: In the face of a chronic illness, it is hard to see a brighter future through the foggy weather. Even when one is sick of Malaria parasite, one easily feels weak, unable to eat nor go out for any activity. This is just Malaria. In fact, news of worse sicknesses like HIV and AIDS and it’s like can easily shatter dreams suddenly and makes one depressed.
- Peer Pressure: (Contributor – Temple Canus): Sometimes, peers can be really a thorn in the flesh. Most times, friends turn enemies and become a problem. Some friends can be very selfish, thoughtless and sarcastic that they laugh at you when you are failing or having challenges. A student once felt depressed because her friends saw her poor result and laughed at her. She lacked the courage to carry on. I encouraged her to let those friends off her memory. Keep on reading, change your friend circle, and you will do well. Friends can also pressure you to overspend your handouts (money given to you to survive in school) and when you later lack, they will never be of help.
- Lack of Adequate Support System: (Contributor – Pere Ikporukpo and Arthur Pedro): Things can really turn pretty bad in school. And to make matters worse, there are no support structures to run to for assistance. Students’ loans are scarce, no good counselling structures. Even where they exist, their functionality is very poor. They do not do much publication, and when someone is depressed, it is hard to locate an office you never really knew.
- Poor Teacher Mentorship: (Contributor – Pere Ikporukpo): An institution is never more qualitative than the very quality of its teeming educators. Therefore, for an institution to produce students who are aware of challenges of the educational system, there is need for the educator’s community to be effective mentors who tutor these learners to success. A teacher once said to a student, “will you sit down there, you Deeper Life woman! Like seriously? Although he later apologized, he allowed his biological characteristics of being easily tetchy take a better part of him. These wrong teacher comments on students that will make the whole class laugh at such students can result to depression.
Can Suicide Really Solve our Problems?
With the way suicide news has filtered into mainstream media in the country, you will think that it is a very good medicine to end depression. So, is suicide really an option? Unfortunately, it is never so. It is not true that when someone commits suicide, the problem is solved. What happens is that the problem is passed to other persons and the suffering continues.
The fact remains that the future is bright – very bright. Just that the problem of the present is blinding you from seeing the bright future. I am not arguing that the problems that causes the depression is easy for you to handle, but be rest assure that if others tell you their stories, you will keep quiet, dust yourself and move one.
There is this story of a man who used his last penny to buy rice, went to the top of the tree with the intent that after eating the rice, he will fall down and die since he is no longer having any other money with him, neither is he having any hope for the future. As he was eating the rice, he looked down and noticed that there was a man eating the rice that fell from his “now benevolent meal”. The man then thought to himself, “if a man is eating from my leftovers at this hour and has not committed suicide, then I am richer” he thought to himself. After the meal, he quietly came down and went home.
The strength you should draw from this story is that you should not exaggerate your problem. Don’t feel like you are the only one suffering from that problem. Imagine if a student committed suicide for having 2.2. Are there not third class students? Have they all died? During induction, it is even third class students that hires plenty canopies to celebrate more than first class students. Common! do not exaggerate your circumstance. Sit back, relax, think, reset, and move one.
Think about the multitude of family members you will put to shame, think about your friends, think about society in general. The load you will transfer to your dependants, parent and friends. Please, have a rethink.
What Can You do Then if Suicide is Not A Solution?
Now that we have known that suicide cannot solve our problems, what then can we do? There are always a million solutions to problems only if you look intently. Accordingly, the following suggestions are put forward.
- Allow time to set in: Have you ever played Michael Bolton’s “Time, Love and Tenderness?” Let me sing the chorus for you all.
♫♫♫♫ When love puts you through the fire ♫♫♫♫
♫♫♫♫ When love puts you through the test ♫♫♫♫
♫♫♫♫ Nothing cures a broken heart ♫♫♫♫
♫♫♫♫ Like time, love, and tenderness ♫♫♫♫
♫♫♫♫ When you think your world is over ♫♫♫♫
♫♫♫♫ Baby, just remember this ♫♫♫♫
♫♫♫♫ Nothing heals a broken heart ♫♫♫♫
♫♫♫♫ Like time, love, and tenderness ♫♫♫♫
♫♫♫♫ Time, love, and tenderness ♫♫♫♫
So, you see? Just allow time to pass by. It cures all things. At least, all things that are curable especially when the needed actions are taken. I remembered a female student complaining to me “I am not feeling fine, no money to even feed, my rent has expired” and so much more complaints. I told her, “I don’t have the solution to your problems right now, but be rest assured that time will settle all your problems. Just take one step at a time, strive for what to eat each morning, and forget the problem as if they never exist. As your landlady now wants you out, reach out to your colleagues, pack your load in various places, as many as can house your properties, and stay with a friend on low key until money comes to rent a new house if need be”. It is already months later, I don’t think she is still in those dark days of hers again. Give time a chance – take one step at a time.
- Reset and Re-invent Yourself: Whether you are in debt, you failed, or some related challenges and you are feeling extremely depressed, just reset yourself. Go back to square zero and start planning all over again. There was a man in the city, during the elders’ meeting, he stood up to talk, but his colleague talked him down. “Who are you to speak when rich men like us are speaking?” the rich man asked. Pained to the bone, the poor man took his family back to the village because the city did not really favoured him. He started farming and in no distant time became a millionaire farmer. This is it. Reset and re-invent yourself. Quit as many responsibilities as you can. You have a girlfriend? Tell her you cannot activate for the time being. She cannot stay? No problem, the beautiful ones are not yet born. In my business, sometimes, operations can be low while responsibilities can be very high. At such time, I already knew I will be using peoples’ monies with me to cover expenses. So, what I do is shut down responsibilities immediately. Anyone that wants to die because of my N10 have to die because I do not have it. We have shovel. I immediately nickname myself, “I don’t have”. I remain like this until things bounce back, then, I start charity. I don’t have to kill myself for poor business operations or because I have no money.
- On poor financing: Parents should understand that education requires adequate funding. The trend of sending students to school only for them to fend for themselves should be discouraged. If a student is coming to school already knowing he/she has no sponsor, he/she braces up the challenges, engaging in profitable business to sustain. Unlike coming to a school with the hope of sponsorship and at the peak of things, sponsor’s behaviour changed and you begin to suffer. Please, visit https://admissionsandutme.com/2019/05/28/total-cost-of-schooling-in-the-university-a-case-study-of-the-niger-delta-university/ and read up the cost of schooling here to know your fate because education has become ever demanding.
- Academic Failure: Failure is a normal thing. However, some level of failure can demoralize you. You begin to feel inferior. This is normal. The only way out of this is to register these courses again in the upcoming session and study harder and pass them. Yes you can. Attend night reading. Stay there all nights, all through the semester, we have done it before, it is nothing. You too can do it. Change your friend circle, mingle with those you think are doing better, you will see changes.
- Relationship Issues/Emotions: It is difficult to say students should stay away from relationship, because it is at this stage that many marriages today started to form. However, understand that faithfulness is a major issues these days. You are beautiful, we know. You have money, we also know that. You have cars, houses; your father is the president, we know. You are handsome, you are cute, we know all these. But do not forget that someone will always be better. You are beautiful, someone else may be more beautiful to his eyes. You are the son of the president, someone else have a bigger dick, right? Right!. And this is a problem to some ladies. So, know that some relationships are meant to last only for a while, especially because of the intents of a party in the relationship. So, don’t kill yourself. When you are heartbroken, the feeling is killing and depression easily sets in. Just relax. If you are crying, continue to cry as it is a kind of medicine that burns off the depression. After a while, you will see yourself getting stronger. Don’t hurriedly fall for another guy, you may use because you need comfort to fall for another idiot. So, take your time, be busy with your studies, time will heal you. Heartbreak issues are best healed with time and not the cold comfort of another man/woman only.
- Debts: Let me take you guys aback. During the ponzi scheme period of 2017 when the economic recession was strong, many persons got involved with this particular ultimate cycler. This guy was collecting money from people and merging them. The system was built in such a way that only people joined themselves and find people to pay them by themselves. This guy took it upon himself to be merging people. He bought ultimate cycler customized umbrellas, notebooks, etc. moving on the streets, collecting monies from unsuspecting publics. All my advise who had been in the system and experienced it weaknesses fell on deaf ears as he told me “I know what I am doing”. It came to a time when people are no longer interested; people started requesting for their monies back. The deadlock has come. Some persons went to his house, carried all his house properties. He had bought flat screen television, generator and so on and started enjoying life with people’s monies. All his properties were collected by his creditors, and at the end, he ran out of Amassoma for a while. His studies suffered tremendously.
As a student, learn how to sow your coat according to your size. Your neighbor is using generator, you too you want to use. Is it generator that brought you to Amassoma? You just have to be focused. Your father is a lower class citizen, and you want to fix the finest and latest hair. At the end, you keep on begging one boy after another. Before you look, small girl with big god and plenty boyfriends has been impregnated. Trouble has set in. The boy that is even responsible for the pregnancy, you do not know. These are the issues. Stay away from oversize plans.
- Religion: Religion often compound certain issues in society all in the guise of morality rather than finding solutions. Religion does not take into cognizance, the affective and emotional needs of the youths. All it preaches is stay away from sex and relationships. So, God who created their sexual organs that are making them restless has now become a fool? Religious bodies must find solution to students’ emotional/relationship needs and help them out instead of threats of hellfire that they themselves never went after they too engaged in such acts. They make students depressed of acts that can barely be abstained from. As a student, you try to manage how much of religious inclusion to entertain. This is very important as many religions has now focused on tithing and business rather than the work of God. This is to ensure you do not make yourself one of their victims. Do not let the phrase “in Jesus name, amen” intoxicate you. You must know what you want.
- Anxiety: Watch your expectation. Do not expect too much. Endeavour to manage yourself within your means. You know that uncle has always been failing, so, why hope on him? Remember uncle too has his own responsibilities.
- Studying a Different Course: Manage the course, write JAMB again, attempt again, if you got admission into the course of your choice while in year two, good for you. Then you can switch, but if not, just quietly continue. Little by little, it will enter your body. Like we said earlier, do not exaggerate your circumstance. Others did not even get admission, so! What’s up with you?
- The PHD (Pull Him Down) Syndrome: Stay away from lecturers’ lane. Be a humble friend. Most lecturers want to see you stupid, always look like a stupid boy, do not behave you know more than them. Study hard and know something. Do not go to any lecturer and beg for grades, this is where you trap yourself. It kills your pride. If you are shining, hide your star, bad people are everywhere. When you graduate, when you must have become your own authority, then, you can explode. No one will encroach you, even if, you can then return pressure on them.
- Sex for Grades: Avoid this “notice me syndrome”. Avoid dress to kill. They will soon notice you and that is where your problem will start. Read hard so you do not beg for scores, else, that is another avenue. Report any sexual harassment attempt to relevant bodies, or use our online portals https://admissionsandutme.com/sexual-harassment-reports/, or read up https://admissionsandutme.com/2018/12/10/teacher-student-sexual-harassment-incidences-the-need-for-preventive-measures/.
- Pressure from Parents to Excel: Don’t mind mummy and daddy sometimes. Check yourself, can you offer that course they are putting on you? Only God knows what would have happened if my parents forced me to study Mathematics. My report card will not only disgrace them, their grandfathers will also be disgraced. So, check yourself, and go for your passion. In some circumstances however, some students had excel in courses chosen for them. I have many of their cases here. So, before you reject, you can actually check if a little adjustment can be made.
- Chronic Illness: When you are sick, if you cannot continue, difer your admission and resume next session. Take your time to treat yourself adequately. Reach out to your colleagues for public help. If the illness does not amount to deferment, then manage the situation as they are. A proper diagnosis and medication will get the job done. Do not hope only on prayers, because the trees and leaves of the field are for the cure of the nation. So, treat and pray.
- Peer Pressure: Change your friend circle. Check very well. Who are your friends? Are they those friends who always call you out to bars to drink? Go to party? Who are they? Believe it or not, if your friends in the NDU are not those who invite you to night reading or some other academic research work, they are practically bad friends.
From the foregoing, we can identify that there are various factors which causes depression which in turn result to suicide and suicide attempts. If you check among your friends, you can easily identify depression when they suddenly become restrictive and turn recluse. They stay away from you and no longer enjoy your company. They want to hide from you as much as possible what they are planning and thinking. The factors that can lead to depression from this discuss includes poor financing, academic failure, relationship issues/emotions, debts, religion, anxiety, studying a course that is not interesting for a student, the pull him down syndrome, sex for grades, pressure from parents to excel and chronic illness. To avoid these problems, students should take into account the suggestions provided above.
Consequent upon the above discussion, we can say that suicide is not really an option. It is just a perception. This is because when you commit suicide, the pain increases in larger quantity – in fact, it spreads tentacles. What you were able to curtail all by yourself becomes a family and societal problem. So, think positive, envisage a brighter future and work towards it.
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