CASE A: About three weeks ago, a young female student took her own life. According to her own Facebook posts, she apparently had a chaotic childhood, was sponsoring herself through school and looking after her own mother – who was a single parent. She was a brilliant poet and a talented writer.
She was dealing with depression and suicidal feelings for at least 11 months as evidenced by the haunting details she vividly wrote about. Her despair, gloom and feelings of helplessness were all too clear. The intensity of her emotional pain was a strongly recurring theme across her writings and poetry. She was drowning and screamed through her writings for someone to help and rescue her. Some friends must have tried…..but in the end, we all failed her.
Case B: A young mother recently killed her 21 months old daughter by drowning her in a bucket of water. She had expressed similar intentions as she felt her life was meaningless and that she was unhappy she brought the baby into the world. Indeed, she saw the baby as a major setback that was restraining her from making progress in life and expressed these ideas to her sister who was supportive and encouraging.
Her sister had notified their parents and pastor who also intervened. However, the following day after her sister had left for work, she had the time to carry out her intentions. She then left a note for her sister admitting her action and bidding them goodbye forever. Subsequently, she reported herself to the police station. In the viral video, she admitted that she didn’t have any hope that things would ever get better at all. It is also important to note that the pregnancy was unwanted in the first place, and it resulted during a rape. But she blamed herself for it because she went to his house by herself.
We can’t do justice to all the issues that need unpacking within the constraints of space here, but will attempt to flag a few and connect some of the dots.
Ignorance, shame and stigma are deadly: In Case A, the young lady screamed herself hoarse through her writings for almost a year but help was not forthcoming. Case B also had challenges and was fed up with life, was ashamed of her life, saw her future as bleak, and considered prison to be better than her present existence. As a society, we need to be doing better with recognising the symptoms and signs of emotional distress.
We should not be dismissive or insensitive and we definitely should not be telling them to simply snap out of it. If someone had a fracture, we would not simply tell them to get up and walk, we would show them empathy and kindness. But we still view emotional challenges as a failing, weakness or lack of faith to be scoffed at; rather than the medical disorder it is.
Adolescent reproductive health and sexual assault need to be tackled. In case A, the mother conceived her via an unwanted teenage pregnancy and the man responsible refused to accept responsibility. Subsequently, her mother’s education was truncated, she was ostracised and shamed and she became bitter and turned to drug abuse (according to the writings of the late poet). She also resented the daughter and it was a love-hate relationship all through until the daughter took her own life.
In case B, it was also an unwanted teenage pregnancy that resulted from sexual assault. And unfortunately, it set in motion, a negative cascade of events that led to her probable depression and culminated in the tragic killing (filicide) of the innocent baby girl.
Social support and health-seeking behaviour. We need improved social services via the empowerment of social workers, better funding of the relevant ministries and improved citizen awareness of how and where to seek help. In the context of case B, her sister was sufficiently alarmed but she turned to family and the pastor – with the best of intentions but they perhaps lacked the expertise to recognise the danger. Otherwise, her baby should have been taken away from her, even if transiently and she should have seen a mental health professional.
Criminal justice system and mental health. The criminal justice system, the police and correctional services should develop a harmonious working relationship with mental health professionals for smooth co-ordination of cases that may require mental health assessments and support. In case B, it is to be expected that her criminal responsibility and fitness to plead should be ascertained via psychiatric evaluation.
The biggest obstacles we face remain the ignorance, shame and stigma associated with mental health challenges. And our inability to connect the dots and see how irresponsible behaviours can cause far-reaching consequences.
YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
Apologise To Nigerians For Denying Links With Chinese Doctors, PDP Tells FG
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the Federal Government over denials and cover-up on the whereabouts and activities of the Chinese medical team who came into the country in April. The party which said such was a betrayal of the public trust by its citizens on the government, the Federal… Read full story
COVID-19: IGP Orders Strict Enforcement Of Inter-State Movement Restriction Orders
The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, on Tuesday, ordered strict enforcement of the national curfew and inter-state movement restriction orders emplaced by the Federal Government as part of measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country… Read full story
Buhari Removes TCN MD One Month After He Reportedly Sacked Labour Leader
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday removed Usman Gur Mohammed as the Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and replaced him with an engineer, Mr Sule Abdulaziz. He was removed about one month after he reportedly sacked a labour leader who was also the General… Read full story
Osinbajo, NCP Mull Healthcare Reforms
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday, presided over a meeting of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) to approve a draft legislative instrument for national healthcare reforms. His spokesman, Laolu Akande, informed that the meeting also discussed power sector issues… Read full story
I’m Not Aware Of Plan To Deport 15,000 Nigerian Students From Malaysia, Says Minister
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, has said he was not aware of move by the Malaysian government to deport over 15,000 Nigerian students in the country. Responding to question from newsmen on Tuesday at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing, the minister, who assured that… Read full story
Reps Summon Minister Of Health Over Whereabouts Of Chinese Medical Team
The House of Representatives on Tuesday resolved to summon the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Eramie over the detailed status report on the activities and whereabouts of the 15 Chinese medical team in Nigeria. The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance sponsored… Read full story
We Can’t Listen To Trump On Hydroxychloroquine For COVID-19, Says PTF
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Tuesday dismissed the claim and the advice of United States President, Donald Trump, on the use of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, for COVID-19. Speaking at the daily briefing of the PTF in Abuja, both Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the Director General… Read full story
We Have Failed If We Don’t Learn From COVID-19 To Build Institutions ― PTF
Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 pandemic says Nigeria would have failed its next generation if it does it learn from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to build enduring and sustainable institutions. Speaking at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic, its chairman… Read full story
For Taking Hydroxychloroquine Against Coronavirus, Trump Is Governing By Witchcraft, Says China
China lashed out at President Donald Trump on Tuesday, claiming the US president is using ‘witchcraft’ to lead during the coronavirus pandemic after he admitted to taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent contracting the disease. Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China Communist Party’s official publication, Global Times, blamed… Read full story
Reps To Conduct Forensic Audit Of NNPC’s Recent Recruitment
The House of Representatives on Tuesday unveiled plans to conduct a forensic investigation into the recent recruitment of graduate trainees by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) with a view to determining how many persons were recruited from the various host communities… Read full story
Senate To Probe N1.532trn Intervention Fund To Power Sector •Demands revocation of privatization
The Senate on Tuesday mandated its Committee on Power sector to probe the over N1.532trillion intervention fund injected to the ailing sector in the last seven years. It equally asked President Muhammadu Buhari administration to revoke the privatisation of the sector… Read full story
Coronavirus Won’t Stop Our Programme For Ondo, Edo Governorship Elections, INEC Says
Okoye revealed that a policy framework for engagement with stakeholders, the conduct of the two end of tenure governorship elections, outstanding by-elections and future electoral activities… Read full story
EDITORIAL: Coronavirus: The Reversal Of The Gains Of Lockdown
NIGERIA began a “phased and gradual” lifting of the lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19 on May 4. This followed the announcement by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 28 that it had become imperative to ease the lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states because many citizens had lost… Read full story
COVID-19: Introduce National Policy On Online Education, Reps Tell FG
The House of Representatives on Tuesday underscored the need for relevant authorities in charge of education in Nigeria to urgently develop a National Policy and Framework for online education for schools at various levels. The lawmakers said the policy should be developed with the view to salvaging the… Read full story