• Suicide, the escape companion of depression

    September, 2017.

    This is probably one topic that has been over flogged, over stretched, sun dried, rewashed and re-dried. Suicide, depression's escape companion. I remember reading about the death of Yinka Olonode sometime back in 2013, he had...
    Suicide, the escape companion of depression

    September, 2017.

    This is probably one topic that has been over flogged, over stretched, sun dried, rewashed and re-dried. Suicide, depression's escape companion. I remember reading about the death of Yinka Olonode sometime back in 2013, he had committed suicide in America. That day, it dawned on me that Depression, just like death is no respecter of persons, achievements, status, riches, your location, connections etc. Anyone can be depressed - rich, poor, tall, short, powerful, well connected, high flyer, healthy, sick, extrovert, introvert; you name it.
    Suicide is just an escape from chronic depression which means it can be avoided. If depression can be fought early, it won't reach its limit.

    I didn't immediately feel sad as much as I felt when I realized who Yinka was. You see, he was popular back in the day for his role in one of MTN's popular adverts that rocked major TV channels then. I knew the advert very well when I was quite young. After realizing who he was, I felt really pained that someone people would have sworn was doing very okay will think of quitting. What many people still don't know is that depression is very real; many people in Nigeria have been depressed at one time or the other in their lives but they don't even know because they are always quick to end every sad statement with, "Nigerians are the happiest people on earth, I cannot be sad" and wear that fake cloak of happiness. Such statements give you just a temporal feeling of hope, it creates a mask for some time and only makes depression linger for a longer time. Depression is not fought with 'I can, I will, I am' only; it must be confronted, not encouraged. Not everyone is able to snap out of depression, these few people sadly go on to commit suicide.

    Depression, according to the Longman Dictionary of contemporary English, is a medical condition that makes you very unhappy and anxious and often prevents you from living a normal life. There it is, very simple definition but a very big issue. Depression is simply a state of being unhappy and remaining so for a long time. When something is depressed, it is said to be low - like low heights, low planes, low surfaces, low grounds and the likes. It is the same way too in a depressed person - low energy, low vibes, low spirit, low morale, etc.

    When I first read the news of the young man's death, my first question was why did he relocate abroad at all? Relocating is not for all personalities, no matter how one argues that it is for greener pastures; it is still not advisable for you if your personality can not readily adjust to culture change, new environment and systems. A further read on the young man revealed that he was facing some challenges before he left the shores of the Country. He had confided in his friend that things were not so good for him at the time and people around him were always taking him for granted. This was a friend that envied him so much because he felt his friend had more going for him (I deduced this from the post his friend shared to bid him farewell). The young man actually ran from his problems rather than face them. From all he had told this friend of his before he relocated, one would see that underneath all the fine, popular boy persona was a very emotional, sensitive spirit. Other people would not care about what people are doing to them, others would join them if they can't change them. For a young man to open up his heart for another person to see, it means he had swallowed so much already, he was already depressed at that time but he felt going abroad was the best escape, sadly he was wrong. If only he had opened up to someone who would have prevented him from attempting to run from his worries or helped him to heal first before going.

    Sadly, depression can follow anyone anywhere. I also read online that he was an illegal immigrant in the U.S. Who would be happy to constantly be on the run? Many people are residing illegally in many countries 'where things work' today but you know what, they have resolved to keep pushing no matter what it takes. But is it everyone that can live such a life? No. Many smiling faces you see out there are actually bottling up more than you can imagine, a more reason why you should remain loyal and true to your loved ones and friends so that they can always open up to you when things are going rough for them. This is not to say though that those who commit suicide are not usually surrounded by family and loved ones, the circumstances may just be different.

    As exciting as going abroad to live sounds, it is not for everyone. Some people fare well in unknown places, others don't. "I have a real hustling spirit, I can adapt easily to places and a new environment", you may say, but is that all that there is to life? What happens when life suddenly throws you off balance? When depression sets in, as a person living in a foreign land/new environment, how do you handle it?

    A point I want to bring out in this write-up is to make the reader know that personality type really matters when you are planning to relocate permanently to an unfamiliar territory and this can play a huge role on depression. It is the knowledge of this fact that should now make you plan well on survival tricks. Many people who complain of being homesick when they are far from home are actually experiencing a phase of depression without knowing so. Forget all the big grammar used to describe depression on the internet. Once you notice you are unhappy for a long time and things just seem somehow, uninteresting, boring or you can't explain it; dear, you are depressed.

    No one wants to be a failure, no not one! Failure is the number one cheerleader of depression. Failure leads to frustration and if not well checked, chronic depression and eventually suicide. Financial failures, academic failures, relationship failures, loss of job or the inability to secure one, loss of contracts, business failures etc. are some examples of situations that can lead to failure. To some women, miscarriage and stillbirths are seen as failures.

    Sadly, suicide is an escape companion of depression. Men mostly suffer chronic depression because society has put so much responsibilities on their shoulders, it has set standards for men and when they are not able to meet up, it judges them wrongly and leads them into an unhappy state.
    Suicide is usually the next thing after chronic depression. The fact is that society, no matter how it is struggling to accept equality, feminism is still partial and expects less from women than men. It is very easy for a man to quit than for a woman because women deep down know that no matter what happens, they can always hide under the umbrella of their husbands or relatives or male friends (I do not stand to be corrected on this fact. Look at the statistics of those who commit suicide. Why do you think the male folks are more? It is because men don't get as much help as the women when they are faced with the same life challenges. Please ladies, put aside the feminist talk for once and probe on this further without a biased mind). The society is more sympathetic towards women than men in financial needs.

    At that point of NO HOPE AGAIN, A man's ego will make him easily quit after facing difficult times and rejection from everyone he has hoped in for rescue but a woman will rather resolve to do the lowest of lows than commit suicide because the society accommodates female sex hawkers, not male sex hawkers. Note, I wrote RATHER. I am not insinuating all women who are depressed due to financial failures and have no other way out do this to escape, I am only stating what most likely happens.
    I used to read newspapers very well before smart phones took over the parade and I can very well confirm that all the stories of women who were once prostitutes or who were still prostitutes and were interviewed, always anonymously opened up that financial difficulties without any other form of hope led them to it. Somehow, society takes this news well from women; from the men, no way!

    Some men decide to do things differently and they get lucky in doing so. Survival must be activated. Look at the case of Bobrisky, a popular gender-bender in Nigeria today. Do you know the beginning of his story at all? Well, the story is all over the place and since he has also shared it before himself, you can search for it and understand the point of my argument. Not everyone can do the magic of O.Y.O or independency, there is a reason why independence has an opposite word - dependence. That word exists because no matter how you preach independence, you will still have people who would still be dependent so enough of the 'don't wait for the government to do this or that for you, take charge of your life talks', let us face reality.

    George Orwell in Animal farm wrote: 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.' Please think about this.
    You need to walk in the shoes some people have walked in before castigating them. Some people don't have the same opportunities as you, some people are more hardworking than you but luck found you first.
    Not all men can handle failures which is why they very easily give up when help seems distant. It is very necessary to check up on friends and loved ones every now and then. Sometimes, all they need to drop the suicidal thoughts is the fact that someone close is watching their footsteps. Don't neglect a friend or loved one because s/he is still struggling, your support system may be the last strength they need to stay floating.

    Rejection too - rejection to grant an important wish like visa rejection, rejection by a loved one or trusted person, rejection of any form leads to depression too.
    I haven't digressed from the main point of this argument, I am just trying to touch every area.

    Sicknesses/illnesses/diseases that don't seem to have an end can also predispose one to suicidal thoughts. As much as people must still depend on others to live, indisposed people don't like to feel like burdens to their loved ones. Families and friends should learn to be around loved ones who are down with illnesses and diseases and not give them the slightest inkling that they are becoming a burden. Even if the health condition does not confine them to any bed, bear in mind that they wake up every day to reality. It is not enough that you hang around to encourage them, your smile may be more important than that hug with a straight face. Create a warm environment for them so that they can always open up to you.

    There is post-partum depression in women who have just put to bed. Husbands should learn to offer their wives who have just put to bed the best support they can. Extended families too should show support and love.

    The best ways you can put depression to check if you are not around a familiar place or faces (also applicable if you are around family and friends) are:
    1). Avoid lonely places.
    2). Join a responsible club or association, religious gathering or vocational School.
    3). Volunteer for causes, N.G.O's, charity organizations etc.
    4). Visit an orphanage to spend time with the children - trust me, they reassure hope. If possible, make it a routine. You must not break a bank to visit an orphanage, anything your heart can afford, take it there and they will appreciate the love.
    5). Visit people in prisons. You can go with a church or N.G.O if you do not have the wherewithal to go on your own.
    6). Visit open parks and gardens often where you are sure to see people around.
    7). Learn new things; acquire new skills.
    8). Reconnect with an old friend. Hang out with friends or family.
    9). More importantly, seek counsel from a professional.

    No matter what, don't let your thoughts control you when you are alone because it may be too late to realize that suicide is not the solution.

    Society's role is to be less judgemental and more encouraging. You and I make up the society. It is not until someone commits suicide that you should start organizing conferences and seminars on Depression as we saw in the subsequent weeks that followed the death of Dr Orji Allwell who committed suicide by jumping off the third mainland bridge in Lagos.
    Family and friends should always come through for their loved ones who are going through tough times because whether you like it or not, when someone commits suicide, he frees him/herself. S/he doesn't feel the pain, it is the living loved ones left behind that bear the whole pain and struggles to come to terms with the loss of their loved ones. So you see why it is very important for you to help (emotionally or financially) that friend or family member who is going through a tough phase.

    No one just wakes up one day and decides to commit suicide, the person would have gone through different phases before arriving at such a decision. You may be helping someone overcome a phase by just saying, 'Hi, how are you?'


    Written by Odia Iyoha.