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Views From The Fu'ad Why did a brilliant, 19-year-old Verishima Unokyur take his own life?

Verishima is not the first unfortunately, and it's not looking like he's going to be the last.

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Verishima Unokyur, 19, was found dead in what appears to be a suicide in his home at Mafoluku, Oshodi, Lagos.

At 7am, Tuesday 3rd of January, Verishima was found limp, hanging from his own tie by his younger brother. Asor had come downstairs to open the door for their mother.

The lingering, haunting question remains why a boy who appeared to be having a good fortune with life would kill himself.


"He was from a very responsible and financially comfortable home. He was getting good care from his mother?!"

These were the words of Olukayode Salako, the owner of Bosworth College, the secondary school Verishima attended.

He was 19 years old, going to one of the best Private Schools in the country. He was a brilliant student, so he probably wasn't struggling with his grades. In fact, many people consider the teenage years to be the most exciting, happy years of a person's life.

We need to first understand why teenagers and young adults might be inclined to commit suicide.

According to several reports, most teens who attempted suicide did it due to a feeling of hopelessness or helplessness. Most of them see themselves as trapped, with suicide being the only escape.

Other causes could be from trying to escape feelings of pain and rejection, victimization or loss.

Teens may also be afraid of disappointing others or feel like they are a burden to others, such as their parents, and these can be additional causes of teen suicide. Others include mental illness like bipolar, or some sort of split personality disorder.

ALSO READ: The last words of Verishima Unokyur

What does Verishima fit in all of these?

We need to understand his background. Verishima is the older of two sons of a single mother. His father had died 15 years ago, and his mother had raised them alone, putting them first, without ever remarrying. But it seems there were signs this might happen.

A family friend told Punch:

“He had been telling the mother that he had the feeling that he would die soon.

The mother attends one of the Pentecostal churches and so when the boy said he would die, she took him to the church and they prayed for him."

Patricia Unokyur loved her son, and did what she thought was right. But let's face it, the answer to some problems will not only be prayer.

The treatment for Fever is not necessarily prayer or night vigils. The answer, most of the time, is medicine. In Nigeria, depression is generally still seen as a "white people problem". So when a person begins to show signs of depression, people chastise them, saying "cheer up", or "some people have it worse than you", or even "you're an ingrate for thinking your life is difficult".

Telling a depressed person to cheer up is like telling a sick person to just get well, without making any real medical efforts toward recovery.

Depression is a real illness that impacts the brain negatively. Depressed people need counselling. Depressed people need medicine. Depressed people need care, just like other forms of illness.

One noteworthy angle is the words of Olukayode Salako, the owner of the secondary school Verishima attended. He said he suspects that diabolical forces were at play.

His words:

"He must have been in connection with some evil or unseen forces who 'remoted' him to do it."

It is quite disturbing that an Educational Officer in 2017 will reduce an issue of such importance to strictly diabolical forces.

Let's assume for a second that there a diabolical forces at play. There's a saying, can't remember the exact words, that when the enemies want to poison a person, they poison his favourite food. What this means is that even if there are 'diabolical forces', according to Mr. Salako, there are definitely triggers and causating factors.

Refusing to acknowledge that Verishima needed help is not only ridiculous, it is unfair. The biggest problem regarding depression and mental illness in Nigeria is denial. We're in denial about many things.

How can we make sure this doesn't happen again?

First, Nigerian parents and guardians need to step out of their comfort zones and begin to acknowledge that their children's mental health is just as important as their physical health. When they acknowledge this, it is only then that we can begin the journey towards long term solutions.

If we fail to acknowledge this problem, Verishima won't be the last as he isn't the first. More young people will take their own lives because they seek an escape.

This is not a treat, it's guaranteed.

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