Monday, March 27, 2017 1:31 pm
By Kunle Ojeleye
Prior to ten years ago, I was one of those Nigerians that scoff when a man/woman is reported to have committed suicide. As we would say in Yoruba with disdain, ‘Aye lo su’.
My views and perceptions changed in April 2007 when my whole world seems to have crashed. Those who knew me then closely understands the events of the time, but this is the first time any of them would learn of the bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts I went through, wondering what life was all about and seeking to end it all. As my sister Bamidele wrote earlier on in the day, “Please, don’t ever condemn those who commit suicide. May we never be at the end of our ropes. May we never be hopeless.” I have been there. I know what it feels like to want to give up on life.
If not for the love, support and encouragement of people God surrounded me with, I cannot fathom what could have happened. A non-biological father of mine now of blessed memory made it a point of duty to call me and my wife from New York every day for more than 5 weeks, encouraging us. Another non-biological parents of mine sent one of my cousins to remove us from our house to theirs to ensure we were under their care, watch and succour. Extra support structures were put in place by my siblings on my wife’s side through some cousins as well as two medical doctor family friends in the UK. My brother Leke was awesome.
It is this kind of family and communal support structure that we seem to be losing every single day in Nigeria, probably contributing to the loneliness a lot of people are experiencing, resulting in a higher rate of suicides in our society.
The support I received in 2007 was my coping strategy. It made me realise that my life is indeed not my own, that I could not just decide to put an end to a life which God made to have responsibility to so many others – my wife, parents, in-laws, extended family members and friends. Ten years down the line, nothing would ever make me to contemplate suicide.
If you are harbouring suicidal thoughts and are reading this, find someone you trust that you can share your innermost feelings with. If per chance you think life has no meaning and you want to end it all, I hope the words above and the attached video encourages you that tomorrow will be better than today.
Kunle Ojeleye (PhD) is a consultant in education, training and learning technology