Depression, Suicide and Substance Abuse seem to suddenly be on the rise in Nigeria today mainly amongst the youth. Some say it’s the result of foreign influence. However, research has shown that what we are currently experiencing as a nation, is the result of our negligence, ignorance and lack of acceptance of the real issues in our society which are the major triggers of depression, substance abuse and in some cases, suicide.
Every 40 seconds, someone somewhere including Nigeria commits suicide. Over 40% of our youth are drug abusers. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria is the world’s 30th and Africa’s 10th nation most prone to suicide.
Suicide is 1 of the 3 leading causes of death among people between the ages of 15-44 and the 2nd leading cause of death among ages 10-24 years in Nigeria. Suicide is oftentimes the last stage for someone battling chronic depression. According to the WHO, depression is the leading cause of Suicide.
Folarin Falana, popular recording artiste known as Falz recently put out a video for his new song ‘Child of the World’. The video, directed by ace producer Kemi Adetiba, is one every Nigerian needs to see. It shines the light on a societal ill that has become a major trigger of depression, substance abuse and Suicide among victims and the youth.
Aside from ignorance which plays a huge role in fostering these challenges in our country, a major reason for depression, suicide and substance abuse in Nigeria is the culture of victim shaming and blaming. This is when the victim of a wrong act is blamed for the wrongful act carried out against them.
As a result, many Nigerians who go through issues that could be triggers for depression, have kept mute due to the fear of being stigmatized, punished or exposed and shamed. We forget too easily that evil deeds thrive in silence and secrecy.
In Falz’s video, a young girl is sexually abused by a trusted relative. The pain and shame from this sends her down an unfortunate path of sleeping around, stealing and more. Things get really bad when she discovers that she had been infected with HIV. She becomes depressed and decides to end her life by committing suicide. (Watch the video below).
The inability to speak up about societal ills is a culture that is doing more evil than good in Nigeria, it is slowly killing our people and it must stop. Our future (The youth) try to run away from their realities by drowning themselves in toxic substances which subsequently turn them into addicts.
Most secondary school students currently abuse drugs because they believe it would help them deal with whatever hurt or pain they face. Substance abuse has now become a coping mechanism to dull out pain.
We must stop victim shaming, and shine the light into the dark abyss in our society, it is only then that we can truly begin the process of healing and solve the epidemic of abuse, depression and suicide. As Falz stated in his song, we must encourage victims to speak up, because they are not to be blamed.
My respect for Falz has gone up another level, his dedication to using his platform and voice to help the voiceless is highly commendable. It is important that more celebrities and public figures use their platforms to address societal ills most especially because of the influence they have on the younger generation. Like Charles Okocha (Igwe Tupac) would say, Falz deserves all the accolades, let’s all give him some.
To address this issue of depression, substance abuse and suicide, I am starting a campaign themed #BoostYourDoseOfDOSE to help people avoid, deal with and overcome Depression.
Over 37 days, beginning from the 1st of August, on all my social media platforms (@lanreolusola – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn), we will be sharing FREE tips daily on what to practically do to develop Emotional Immunity and Resilience.
All you need to do is to follow me and also share these tips with your friends and family on your own social media platforms and especially change your WhatsApp DP with the daily Illustrations and tips that we share to help others.
Just as we did Ebola; together, let us kick out depression, abuse and suicide out of Nigeria
The Catalyst, Lanre Olusola