IN virtually all tribes in Nigeria, suicide is viewed as abomination of sort. When such happens, certain sacrifices are performed to cleanse the land and appease the gods that had been provoked with the act.
Much as cultural norms abhor such act, contemporary laws equally detest any such act, hence, government’s strong hold on pro-life, (right to life of all people) irrespective of seemingly difficulties associated with the life in some cases. Clear extant laws prohibiting motives and acts that tilt towards encouraging suicide acts in any form find copious places in the national constitution, international charters and conventions with regard to upholding the sanctity of life.
In Igboland, suicide is considered too sacrilegious to be treated with kids gloves. When such happens, the remains of the deceased is not touched by everybody. There are special people that undertake the burial and necessary rites as may be required by the custom of the affected area. All in all, the mood that greets such incident is mixture of deep grief, shame and overwhelming foreboding of curses that visit the people in the aftermath of the incidence, with much emphasis on what occasioned the circumstance and what next follows. This is obviously not what any good spirited person would wish anybody, not even their enemies and it happens very rarely in history.
Unfortunately, this is a phenomenon that hounds the Nigerian society with increased rate of occurrence currently. Recently, the suicide report of a Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) believer, Mr Michael Arowosaiye in Abuja stirred confusion among people within and outside his circle.
This has triggered a lot of reactions ranging from condemnation of the deceased for taking his life for whatever reasons, to bashing of the church for their seemingly apathy in wading into life headed on depression. In Mike’s (as he was fondly called) case, the social media went viral with the negligence of the church and their leaders on plight of depressed lives, while impoverishing people and chasing after wealthy individuals from whom they line their pockets to live in affluence.
The church seems to allegedly champion ostentatious life more than any other institutions, with leaders preaching prosperity than piety and cruising on helicopters and other exotic luxuries that promote greed, imprudence and decadence in the society.
The barrage of attacks on Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), over the sacrilegious death of Mike, who was alleged to be going through financial problems while serving in active capacity as a member of the church, such that he suffered serious accommodation issue without any aid coming his way from his church, prompted a response from the churche’s pastor in defense of his church.
Mike, who until his death lived at Sunnyvale Estate, Lokogoma, Abuja, also popular as a regular performer in RCCG’s programmes hanged himself on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. He was believed to have been going through depression, but overlooked by his church’s community.
However, in one of the social media posts refuting this allegation of church’s apathy to members plight, it claimed that Mike never complained to the church about what he was going through and had since left RCCG to Good Shepherd Ministry. According to Senior Pastor and Head, Public Relations, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Olaitan Olubimi, “for us as human beings, it is painful that somebody has committed suicide. So, it is not right to begin to say whether he was with us or not. So, we first sympathise with the family.
The report we have is that he used to be one of the singers in one of our parishes in Abuja. He left the church a while ago to join the Shepherdhill Ministry, where he became their choirmaster. So, as of this time, we cannot say that he was our member.
Secondly, if he were our member, there is a tradition in RCCG whereby every parish attempts to assist every member under stress. So, if he were our member or minister and had some challenges, he could have approached his pastors.”
Whether or not the church was informed of Mike’s predicament for prompt assistance, the fact remains that the deceased lost faith in a system that ordinarily should have provided support to get him going. He ended his life miserably. Regrettably, there are still more than a thousand and one Mikes harshly challenged in the society which has given rise to recurrent suicide cases of late.
Barely 24hrs before Mike took his life gruesomely, using his own belt to strangle himself, a 400 level student of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Akachi Chukwuemeka had also taken the inglorious route, this time, allegedly gulping down two cans of sniper insecticide that quickly ended it all for him, despite efforts to save his life by doctors, when he was spotted and rushed to Medical Centre. From his own notes, he had 20 years back tried to slit his bowels with their kitchen knife in Jos, Nigeria, where he lived with his parents then, but couldn’t pull through his intentions. He kept that top secret and after some years,tried drinking two litres of fuel he bought by himself for the sole purpose of terminating his life. Unfortunately, that did not succeed in killing him then, until he tried sniper insecticide which wasted no time in ending it all for him once and for all.
Again, it was attributed to depression. In Akachi’s case, his parents were thoroughly bashed in the social media for insensitivity to the boy’s pressured life. They came under vitriolic bashing from social media commentators due to information on Akachi’s wall, spurning his forced bath with water in which his elder sister peed on when they were in their tender age. Sadly, how could Akachi’s parents be crucified for what they didn’t even notice, while the young mind took it to heart and allowed that drive his emotions thereafter in life?
It took the revelations from Akachi’s personal notes for people to know that he lived in an imaginary world created by his mental faculty, and that his catastrophic end was only a matter of ‘when’. The parents did their best to raise him from infancy to adulthood, catered for his education up to the university level.
His memmoirs revealed his christian background as inculcated in him by his parents, albeit his unwillingness as was later revealed in his notes, and proven by his embrace of atheism after denouncing Christianity in later life. Not all children got the privileges he enjoyed, yet, they lived happily. Akachi was described as very intelligent young man by those who knew him and cannot be said to have been so frustrated to contemplate suicide on a clear mind.
The questions are, could anybody have saved him? Could the literatures he was exposed to, have influenced his mind set to crave for absurdity? Much as answers to these are not readily provided, the uninspiring social system seems to add to the growing ill. In the Nigerian context, circumstances likely to trigger frustration abound. Poor economic situation,, unprecedented hardship and hopelessness prevail in the country lately. Goals are hardly met despite hard struggles by the citizens. Insecurity and overbearing injustices are common in the system; triggering unbearable suppressions of right that can force vulnerable minds to easy end. When institutions that should lift a man’s spirit and set him on the route to higher goals, become the very drawbacks to his advancement, life gets too mundane to encourage continuity, thus, eliciting consideration for easy quit.
The inference here is that those who can contribute to remedying the situation should not relent any further, but rise to the urgency of the current development, act fast before it gets too late.
It does not matter ones’ current placement in life, what circumstance throws up in the next count may be as unexpected as it could be shocking. It may take only timely counseling or little charity to save a very important life. The society cannot afford to continue losing them, when they can be saved.
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