“I felt a huge cloud of sadness after I finished high school, but didn’t really understand how to categorize it. Due to various things and personal occurrences, but I realized I was actually depressed when I moved to Canada and I tried to take my life after series of cutting. I just felt empty and would cry myself to sleep.”
These are the words of Greg Manuel (not real name), a 23-year-old Business Administration graduate who is currently performing his National Youth Service. Greg loves football and is determined to make a living in Sports administration. For Greg, life is beautiful but at a point, he almost threw in the towel. Without blaming anyone for the circumstances life threw at him and the unfair society that could not read his mind to understand the burden he had to bare, he decided to see a therapist.
Greg went ahead to explain how taking the extra step of seeing a therapist really helped him, and when he got off his medication, he started looking forward to what life had to offer him!
The theme of the year: “Working Together to Prevent Suicide” is so apt that one could say Greg was able to defeat suicide by working with a therapist. It is not a sign of weakness to talk to a therapist about your state of mind, it is the best thing to do.
As the rate of suicidal thoughts increased over the past few years, the world is committing itself to collaboratively prevent deaths caused via suicide. Currently, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death worldwide. For people who may not be able to fathom why or how people get to the point of suicide, there’s something called “Suicidal Ideation”.
Medical News Today defines Suicidal Ideation as “thinking about or planning suicide.” According to the medical website, thoughts can range from a detailed plan to a fleeting consideration. It does not include the final act of suicide in it. The followings are reasons people consider suicide;
- Life events (loss, bullying, scandals, abuse, etc.)
- Mental illness (disorders, depression)
- Substance abuse
A few people may say life events are normal and must occur, therefore those who have suicidal thoughts because of life events are considered “weak” or “not tough enough”. This is not true. People who experience a stressful life event may feel intense anger, sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness, and may occasionally have the thought to end it all. Thus, death is considered the easiest escape route for many.
“I didn’t feel beautiful in my clothes. I cried myself to sleep every day. The feeling of not being enough just never went away.”
However, the experiences of stressful life events do not trigger recurring suicidal thoughts, what triggers them in most situations is a mental illness; it could be depression or a psychiatric disorder. Warning signs of depression include;
- lack of excitement/interest
- Mood swings
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Recurring Sadness
- Lack of concentration
In a conversation with Centre for Communication and Social Impact (CCSI), another suicide survivor, Sarah Adegoke (not real name) who was always bullied for God’s blessings of her body size, said she never thought she was beautiful in her clothes. Like Greg, she cries every night until the mild angel of sleep takes control. She tried to help herself by avoiding food in order to slim down. It just didn’t work.
“I was constantly bullied for being overweight, was called all kinds of names. I wouldn’t eat for days just so I could lose weight. It wasn’t really working. I didn’t feel beautiful in my clothes. I cried myself to sleep every day. The feeling of not being enough just never went away. It was like a huge cloud following me and I wanted to end my life several times, it just seemed like the easiest escape route,” she said.
During the suicidal ideation stage, most people keep to themselves and won’t even open up to their parents. Sarah was not sure what support was available to her from her parents, she wanted to help herself and she found out all her efforts were not working. Her words: “No one knew I was going through this, absolutely no one. My mum noticed, and she kept asking if I was okay, one day I broke down and told her everything. She supported me, made me know I’m beautiful every day, and booked me a therapist. I was making progress! With time I started to love taking pictures, my confidence grew, and I fell in love with myself.”
Sarah is now a graduate and gainfully employed with a government agency. Her ability to knock down suicide is so inspiring that she now loves her body and has developed an amazing passion for photography. She can ‘snap for Africa’. That’s the spirit, do not let the issues of life knock you down, get up, seek help, and be a better person.
We love the positive turn in these two stories. One person pushed himself, the other found a helping hand. Are you ready to work together with the rest of the world in preventing suicide? If yes, then get ready to abide by one or more of the following steps:
- Be intentional about spreading/sharing awareness on suicide.
- Be sensitive to know when a person is feeling down and be sure to reach out. Know the signs.
- Encourage anyone who has confided in you about his/her suicidal thoughts to seek professional help. Never disregard their feelings and don’t discuss them with others!
- Be sure to follow up with friends or loved ones even if they supposedly progressed from the crisis.
Our message to everyone in despair or feeling lonely is – Reach out! You deserve to live, you deserve to stay, and you deserve to be loved. Don’t throw your life away, reach out! There are people who love you and are encouraged to see you excel in life.
The names of the individuals mentioned in this article have been changed to protect their privacy. Thanks
The Centre for Communication and Social Impact (CCSI) is a leading Social and Behaviour Change (SBC) organization with expertise in utilizing evidence from research to implement effective strategies that address barriers preventing designated audiences from adopting recommended behaviors.
Birthed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (JHCCP), Baltimore, USA, and registered in 2001 as a Non-Governmental Organization with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria, CCSI continues to work towards being the center of excellence in strategic communications in Africa.
Driven by values of integrity, passion, care, innovation, and excellence, CCSI focuses on the central role of strategic communication to impact behaviors, build brands, and provide technical leadership in health and social development.