This Nigerian Died Hours After He was Mocked for Revealing His Depression; It’s Time to Set up National Suicide Helplines!

Tributes are pouring in following the death of an Ado-Ekiti man, Ariyo Olanrewaju Taiwo, who may have committed suicide.

In typical fashion, people who knew him flooded their social media pages with stories of the deceased before his death – how he was good to them, times he inspired them. His Facebook is littered with ‘RIP’, and close associates are expressing their sadness in different languages.

But, only a few hours ago, the same man made a suicidal post and got mocked for it.

Here’s what he posted and the sample response he got:

After he was found dead, see sample condolences he got:

This is not the first of such cases.

In February, a disturbing video of an Edo man quarreling with neighbours who saved him from his burning house surfaced on social media. Eyewitnesses said the man, for unknown reasons, chased his family out of his house, locked himself in and set the building on fire. Neighbours rushed to the scene as the building went up in flames; they smashed a door in, and pulled the suicidal father out.

A close-up of the clip shows that the neighbours bounded the man’s hands and legs and taunted him. One unidentified man smacked the victim on the head, while others rained insults on him. And the victim, who clearly did not understand why they would rescue him only to subject him to debasing treatment, lashed out at them.

“Na you give me life? Na you give me life? Why you wan save my life,” he asked them.

Nigeria is a deeply religious nation, as such mental health is often seen as the wages of sin – a notion, contrary to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definition of same – as preached by religious heads whose words hold authority. Like Pastor Sam Adeyemi who infamously said, “The root cause of mental illness is Sin. (Rom 6:23) and the foundational solution to mental health is Salvation.”

Pages promoting personal preservation abound on social media, urging Nigerians to trade ‘Amen’s for deliverance from uncertain deaths. However, mental illness remains, largely, a hushed topic in our clime and this is the reason why we do not know what to say, or how to help, suicide victims so as not to worsen their personal crisis.

How then do we help people threatening to take their own lives. According to this report by a Nigerian, he called an Australian helpline when a friend threatened suicide; he couldn’t find any Nigerian helpline. However, pages like Nigeria Suicide Prevention Initiative (NSPI) have begun to emerge, though they are largely unknown.

Do you know other helplines/professionals who can help suicidal people? Please let us know.

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