By Mutiu Iyanda
Death is inevitable, but it is always disheartening when a person killed himself or another person. Suicide occurs every day throughout the world, affecting the rich and the poor. From developed to developing countries, suicide rates are incredibly diverse with many reasons adduced for it. Six months to the end of this year, available statistics have shown that Lithuania, Russia, Guyana and South Korea have recorded significant numbers of suicide cases. In the Eastern Europe, Belarus, Suriname and Kazakhstan are leading the race. While the narrative on suicide rages on in those countries and others, suicide has been reported to be almost unheard of in Bahamas, Jamaica, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda.
In Africa, the story is not quite different as countries on the continent have their share of the global percent of suicide rates. Though, getting data on cases such as suicide incidents are difficult, the recent reports have further emphasised that suicide is real. For 2019, Nigeria is expected to have 9.5 of its 100,000 people committing suicide, while it would 11.6 in South Africa. Existing data also indicate that Ghana, Egypt and Kenya will have 5.4, 4 and 3.2 of 100,000 people committing suicide respectively.
Like other continents, suicide is considered a masculine behaviour, affecting mainly young males in recent years. For this year, 9.9 of the 100,000 expected to commit the offence are projected to be males, while females would be 9.2. In South Africa, it is 18.7 of the males and 4.7 for the females. When suicide cases occurred, hanging, poisoning, diving into rivers and the use of firearm have been recorded as preferred methods. However, the recent incidents where Sniper and Hypo were used have added a new narrative to the methods being used. The narrative has been both counter-narrative and alternative narrative. Some Nigerians believe that banning the two brands would reduce the rate of suicide in the country. To the public analysts and social workers, banning the brands is not the right solution to the problem.
Beyond the materials being used to commit the offence, governments, concerned stakeholders and individuals need to collaborate on developing workable plans towards addressing various socioeconomic challenges in the country. This articles leverage soft and hard data to understand specific trends shaping the suicide rates in Nigeria.
In Search of Happiness, Life Expectancy, Information about Suicide
Being happy and live long are the two things everyone wants. When the first one becomes elusive, depression begins, which has been discovered to be one of the factors contributing to suicide incidents. Having the second depends on the number of years God has recorded for individuals to spend on earth. Apart from this, the presence of the right facilities, especially medical ones, could increase people’s livability.
From 2015 to 2019 Nigeria’s average life expectancy has been 53.9 years, while global happiness ranking is 90.4. The lowest life expectancy and high score on the happiness ranking are pointers that Nigerians will not hesitate to seek for information on how to better their life. While doing this, attention could be shifted significantly to understanding happiness and life expectancy in the country in relation with other countries.
As the media continue reporting suicide cases across the country, from January to June, 2019, analysis indicates that people in Taraba, Akwa Ibom, Borno, Katsina and Plateau have sought knowledge about happiness than any other state in the country, using the Internet. Osun, Enugu, Oyo, Edo and Lagos states, including Abuja are the places where people have searched about life expectancy, with a view of knowing the reasons behind the country’s status in the world and how governments could address the socioeconomic problems contributing to the decline life expectancy rate (in age). Data indicate that people in Bayelsa state only interested in understanding suicide. This could be linked to the high suicide cases reported in the south region of the country recently.
The search interests provide new data for understanding the suicide rates in the country. Leveraging this, analysis indicates that people’s interest about happiness from January to June, 2019 connects with the country’s 4 years and less than 5 months happiness ranking by 52.5%. The result is alarming, when the trending life expectancy was analysed along with the life expectancy. The trends and the real life expectancy in terms of age resonate by 68.7%. These insights have shown that people will continue to understand and seek for knowledge on the two issues based on the earlier information had through global and national reports.
Analysis further shows that a one percent increase in the people’s interest about suicide decreases interest about happiness by 0.8%. This is quite different for the life expectancy. Analysis reveals that one percent interest in understanding suicide increases interest about life expectancy by 1.7%. These results have established that when people do not possess what they want in life, suicide could be seen as an alternative. On the other hand, understanding the consequences of committing suicide and seeing governments’ efforts towards better living conditions could prevent people from committing suicide.
Key Forces Shaping the Trends
The key tool to achieving happiness and live long (as God wishes) is for people to meet and solve common needs and problems during specific periods. This cannot be attained absolutely without recourse to the right value system. To achieve the desired results, each one must be ready to participate actively and generously. Nigeria is a country with a lot of challenges that need collective solution mechanisms. However, the relationship between governments and citizens seem complex. Among the people, fostering strong relationships could be difficult when socioeconomic status becomes a key factor in initiating and building the relationships. In these situations, addressing social and economic problems leading to suicide would be difficult.
Using Nigeria’s national value scores, analysis reveals that people’s interest in knowing suicide links with the scores by 58%, while the interest about life expectancy connects with the scores by 28%. Over 33% of the interest about suicide was as a result of the scores, while 7.8% was recorded for the interest about life expectancy. Considering the interest about the life expectancy and the yearly status, analysis establishes that the scores facilitated the interest by 31.3%, while the yearly status connects with the scores by 56%.
What is at Stake?
From the data and further analysis, it is clear that both the trends and real data need to be used by the governments and other stakeholders to tame the suicide rates in the country. The linkage between the interest in understanding happiness and life expectancy with interest about suicide will continue in the next three months. It will dip in October and November and expect to increase in December, 2019. There is no doubt, suicide is not seen by governments as a public health problem which needs a national prevention strategy. Nigeria needs the strategy. The strategy must holistically address issues associated with older age, not married, low occupational group, depression, anxiety, somatic symptoms and disability.