Youth Suicide – Let’s Build Societal Block and Support Systems


    Suicide simply means to kill one’s self intentionally as defined by some dictionaries. The argument has always been whether people kill themselves intentionally or not, since psychologists believe there are always push and pull factors that cause people to take their own lives. No one in his or right senses will ever kill him or herself. It never happens.Something always triggers it.

    In Ghana today, there are many predispositions factors that can easily lead to people committing suicide due to lack of support systems and the kind of society we are building these days that one’s problem is no one’s business. Our societies have mechanised over the years to the extent that all the natural support systems have been broken and in addition, we are not making efforts to build some of them particularly in our schools and workplaces. Places that they have these support systems too, they are not effective with unqualified people manning them at times.

    Research has proven that those who tried to commit suicide but were not successful due to some timely interventions will always resort to attempting suicides when the going becomes very tough. With such people, psychologists recommend that they go through intensive counseling sessions or go for rehabilitation coupled with intensified monitoring. They need to be shapped emotionally and psychologically to face challenges of life going forward.

    Once I was on duty at Municipal Chief Executive’s (MCE) bungalow at Kpando when a man tried to kill himself by hanging. I was there with the watchman when a certain woman in her mid 50s ran to us that her son has hunged himself so we ran there. It was just at the back of the MCE’s bungalow so the watchman quickly climbed the wall and cut the robe.The man fell down heavily and just as he landed on the ground, he coughed heavily and shouted “Mum death is such a painful thing” as tears were dripling from his eyes. We removed the robe from his neck as his mother embraced him.

    There and there, I got to know that people regret once they have initiated the action of suicide but it is always too late and irreversible.

    As human beings and by our nature, there is always a point of no return with whatever decision we take whether right or wrong and so with suicide, when all hopes are lost for some people. According to the mother of the man who tried to commit suicide, he has constantly said that he would kill himself so she decided to bring him to a nearby prayer camp until he sneaked out from the prayer center to commit suicide when the watchman and I intervened to save him. As Africans and people, we have always connected spiritism to all the physical occurrences in this life and one of such is suicide that many African Traditionalists and Christians believe that suicide is always motivated by “spiritual forces” instead of providing emotional and psychological supports.

    As a police officer, I have been to several suicide scenes and also investigated causes of suicide but we end up with speculations but not really the remote cause that triggered a person to take his or her life particularly those who die without leaving a suicide notes. To investigate a death that came as a result of suicide is like a blind man walking in darkness. You can never get to the bottom of the the circumstances that led one to commit suicide though you can have causes and effects situations at times that can lead you to conclude fairly but not authoritatively.

    In the course of investigations, in as much as we often don’t get to the root causes of suicide, many people before committing suicide exhibit behaviour of “ready to die” or “ready to travel forever” situations. Some suddenly become very impatient and restless, some isolate themselves from even their partners and children, some become very depressed and show signs of all hope is lost and other unusual behaviours that are often suspicious and abnormal over a period of time. Some interestingly show sign of confidence and full of hopes to lead normal life but deep in their hearts they have contemplated and chosen suicide as the only solution to whatever challenges confronting them. With such people, it is very difficult to suspect suicide since they have lead sound and normal lives before their deaths but whatever it is, decision of suicide is one that is not taken overnight but often contemplated on for sometimes. There are always traces exhibited by people contemplating suicide. With watchful attentions, we can always save them.

    Suicide is largely due to mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, personality disorders, alcoholism or substance abuse and, impulse factors such as financial difficulties, troubles in relationships and bullying. Research is proving fast that suicide among teenagers and young adults is often as a result of troubles in relationships particularly those that have not been sanctioned by their parents. They take their lives when emotional stresses and psychological traumas in relationships become very unbearable for them and do not know whom to confide into.

    At times, soothing voices and sweet smiles together with warm receptions of open arms will go a long way to save one from committing suicide but typically Africans and Ghanaians as we are, we blame people going through psychological and emotional problems. That is when we play our holier than that attitude and pretend to be holier than the Pope himself. In some cases we instill fear in them and take hopes of life from them making to resort to suicide as the only solution to avoid shame and reproach.

    Common methods of suicide include hanging, poisoning and through guns or fire arms in places where there is easy accessibility of guns or fire arms. There has also been increased cases of people jumping from high rising buildings lately, drowning and even instances of people setting themselves ablaze depending on the circumstances one finds himy or herself in. There has also been situations that people run to cross moving vehicles just to end it all.

    In 2013, it was reported by Wikipedia Encyclopedia that some 842,000 people died through suicide and 10 to 20 million non fatal attempted suicide cases were recorded every year. Suicide has thus become 10th leading cause of death worldwide as it is proven that suicide is generally higher among men than women. Whereas loneliness, emotional and psychological traumas have been leading causes of suicide among women, financial and extreme poverty coupled with alcoholism and substance abuses are leading causes of suicide among men.

    Suicide is not a new phenomenon but one that is very old since the times that challenges started to confront mankind. When man runs out of solutions to problems particularly one that will bring shame and reproach to them, they contemplate suicide particularly in our age that our society is becoming very impatient to lend ears and support to people who have found themselves in financial difficulties, mental disorders, psychological and emotional traumas as well as any effect that kill people deep inside them.

    The rate at which suicide is getting on the rise among our youths tells that there is something wrong with the way we are building our society these days. We have given our youths and young ones too much freedom but we have failed to support them to solve the problems that come with overly freedoms. We are mechanising from typical traditional African societies to more of Europeanised and Americanised societies yet we are failing to provide artificial support systems that these people have created to reduce suicide in their countries . We have rather chosen to become very irresponsible in the midst of abundant freedom.

    Societal pressures these days are just too much more than societal supports. We have KNUST and Legon cases to inform our proactiveness to curb youth suicides particularly among our students where support systems should be in abundance.

    Since we are no longer our brothers keeper, suicide will be the option for many because no one is keeping eye on the brother. Lend an ear to somebody to help prevent suicide.

    Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III

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