Depression and suicide is growing in large numbers in Nigeria. Unfortunately, we are not talking about it enough.
Yesterday, Sunday, March 19, 2017, a man committed suicide by jumping into the lagoon from the 3rd Mainland Bridge.
The news was shocking to Nigerians who were enjoying their fine Sunday of football and Big Brother Naija entertainment.
Depression and suicide are as real as malaria and HIV/AIDS. It is a slow cancer taking the lives of many Nigerians.
The statistics may differ on the exact amount but 21 -64 million Nigerians are said to suffer from mental illness. This is an alarming number considering the total population of Nigeria is approximately 190 million people.
Why should someone commit suicide? Why should a Nigerian take his life? We have always viewed depression and suicide as oyinbo people's madness. As Nigerians, we can't come to terms that someone takes his or her life because of unhappiness.
An average Nigerian appears to be upbeat than anything else. His reality might be different but in public, he puts on a mask because in the Nigerian cultural context, depression and sadness are not tolerated. We don't understand depression. We don't believe it is in our DNA. Our society has told us that we should be optimistic at all times.
We don't talk about sex. We don't talk about sadness. We don't talk about depression. We don't talk about suicide. We don't talk about a lot of things bothering people. We skip real issues for the fake joy of organised religion. We also pretend a lot and sweep things under the rug.
The conservative and pretentious nature of our society has unfortunately made it difficult for people to open up and talk about the demons they are battling with.
If you have the courage to speak about your depression, you are told that you are acting like a pampered white person and need to suck it up. If you have more concerned people around you, the solution is to pray and fast.
Mental illness is serious. It is no joking matter and it is high time we talk about it. The problem with the Nigerian society is that we don't talk. We can dance and pray but when it is time to talk about depression and suicide we shy away from the matter.
To those battling depression and contemplating suicide, ending your life is not the solution. Taking your life is not the answer. It feels like there is no one who understands what you are going through but trust me there are.
If you are depressed or thinking of taking your life please reach out to someone at the Nigeria Suicide Prevention Initiative - Hotline +234 806 210 6493.