They tell you that suicide is selfish, that it is cowardice, and that it is wrong. That suicide is no way to die. What they don’t know is that it takes courage to tie a noose, put your neck in and grit your teeth, shit your pants, clasp and unclasp your hands as you wait for the rope to cut deeper into your flesh. Honestly speaking, it takes courage to swallow a liter of sulphuric acid, let it burn its way down your throat, down through the esophagus and wreck havoc as it settles down your stomach. Tell me what is the cowardice in swallowing triatix? I mean you all know how bad it smells even the ticks can’t stand it. There is absolutely no cowardice in choosing to die via a bullet let loose by your own hands. Suicide is many things but it is not cowardice! David Mitchell says that; cowardice has nothing to do with it- suicide takes considerable courage.
Most people would rather not talk about suicide. It is a taboo amongst most African cultures. (Ever attended a funeral of someone who committed suicide? Then you know what I am saying) in the church setting, it is a murder which is a violation of the commandments. Suicide and attempted suicide is viewed as a curse in most communities. Most people will go Iraq and Iran on victims of attempted suicide. They will rush them to the hospital alright but they often receive an uncalled for tongue-lashing. There is this grown man who had drank a whole bottle of a pesticide and his brothers rushed him to the hospital. While he was retching and clutching his stomach in pain, a brother of his who happened to be a teacher kept glaring at him and reminding him that he is the one who had chosen the pain. Needless to say, he passed away hours later. A mother of four drowned a bottle of triatix. Her husband and good Kenyans rushed her to the hospital only for them to chide her for being so stupid. She died after a two day stay in hospital, because her husband didn’t have money to buy her drugs that could reduce the side effects of the poison!
Suicide is common. Attempted suicide is commoner. Approximately seven hundred thousand people take their own lives annually. Most of these are young people between the age of thirteen and thirty five. Quite unfortunate that people who have literally a life- time before them are the very ones who do not see the need to live. You ask yourself “why?” why is it that someone will literally fight for their dear lives in intensive care units, why is it that a patient with stage four lung cancer would cling to life so much while a seemingly ‘whole’ person would jump in front of a an over-speeding car. Why would someone be that cruel to themselves? Why would someone not give a hoot about life?
No one is born not wanting to live. Most of the times, life becomes too much. Sadly, in the world of face book, twitter, and Instagram no one realizes another person’s struggles. Everybody is busy and when it happens, everyone runs to social media with questions like” why man why? “Really now?” “Did you have to do it?” everyone is apt to call you selfish after you kill yourself but David Mitchell writes that ‘what’s selfish is to demand another to endure an intolerable existence, just to spare families, friends and enemies a bit of soul-searching.’
People commit suicide for reasons bigger than cowardice, and fear. They commit suicide because;
- THEY are DEPRESSED
Over half of all attempted suicides are as a result of depression.
Depression is sadness multiplied infinite times. It is darkness, pain, hopelessness, and anhedonia all inhabiting the same person.
Case on spot here is the seemingly “ harmless” alcohol
Most depressed people tend to lose themselves in alcohol in an attempt to escape their persistent pathological melancholy.
It works for some time, helps them forget themselves for some time, puts a song in their lips and gets them newer friends. But with time, it ceases to comfort them.
Alcohol leads to loss of whatever little self control was left and that is how a person is found hanging from his roof reeking alcohol.
- DISAPPOINTMENT and LOSS
Divorce, death, break-ups, this world is so full of disappointments and when people can’t deal with them, they remove themselves from them permanently
- PERSONALITY ABNORMALITIES
Then there are those who are kind of impulsive. They will fallout with girl-friends, threaten to kill themselves and they do. This is common among teenagers
Sometimes, a person will commit suicide out of the blues. They will be alright, and then the next minute they will be found dangling from a tree, lifeless. Most suicidal individuals however will behave in a certain way for sometime before they kill themselves.
Here is how to tell if someone is suicidal;
- They focus on the gone past- they dwell on past losses and defeats.
- They anticipate no future- some might say the world will be a better place without
- They are distracted and lack humor
- They are pre-occupied with death
- Some are dominated by hopelessness and helplessness
- Some will let you know that they are intending to kill themselves- take it seriously
A person preparing to die will visit family and friends to say good bye, some will write a suicide note therefore checking their rooms would be prudent. Some will write a will and others will purchase a means to their end, a rope, a gun……
If you suspect that a person close to you might commit suicide, here is what to do;
- Ensure he/she is not left alone. A determined person commits suicide when there is no one to stop them. Don’t let them sleep alone. Don’t let them take a walk alone.
- Remove anything that they may use. These are many and varied. Some use knives to open a vein, stab self, guns, pesticides and herbicides, ropes, guns
- Commit such a person to a safe secure and supervised facility-hospital
- Treat underlying psychiatric illness- depression, alcohol dependence, schizophrenia….
Here is a list of patients who should not be ignored;
- A person who has attempted suicide before. Some people try suicide as a way of seeking for attention. Their initial intention is never to die. Others try a first time and fail, learn from their mistake, try harder a second time and succeed. Anyone who has attempted suicide should be reviewed by a psychiatrist for this reason
- Patients who engage in activities that indicate they are leaving life ( writing a will, visiting friends and making funeral plans)
- Patients with a family history of suicide. They tend to commit suicide at around the same age their relatives committed suicide or during their death anniversaries
- Patients recently discharged from psychiatric hospitals. The time after discharge is usually very tough as they try to get back into the normal life
- Depressed patients who often see death as the only way out of their pathological sadness
- Patients with command hallucinations- these will often respond to the voices in their minds telling them to kill themselves
A suicide can only be prevented. It can never be treated and no matter how much we talk about the way it should never have happened, once it is done it cannot be un-done.