SUICIDE IN ACADEMIA AND CAREFREE ATTITUDE OF SCHOOL AUTHORITIES

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BY MOJOYINOLA ABD’AFEEZ

2017 was my saddest year. I wished I died. My days were filled with sorrowful thoughts like, is there really God? If there is, is He not a devil? Why will God allow man to suffer on earth? Will I make it in life? Should I run into a car on the road? Should I poison myself? Should I hang myself? All these questions kept running to my mind everyday I woke up. The sadness came after I wrote my part two examinations and I did not see my results. I went to my departmental office. I explained my plight. They asked me if I did the signing in-out in the exam hall. I replied in affirmation. They asked me to write a letter to the university Information Technology and Media Services. I wrote the letter and I submitted it to them. They asked me to come back the following day. I went. They did nothing. I went back to my department to report them. They said they could not do anything except I saw the HOD. I met the HOD. He followed me to (ITeMS). To cut the story short, I saw the results after a year. I was highly depressed.

I was living with three roommates. They didn’t notice I was very sad. We laughed. We joked. In fact, whenever I met my classmates I “whyned” them like happiness resided in my heart. I turned to a clown. But beyond my wearing of a grimace face lay the anguish I was battling with. I decided not to tell anybody my suicidal thoughts. I began to stay aloof. I went to mosque late. While on prayer, I felt like I was doing some exercises (not really worshipping God). In my thought, I challenged the existence of God. However, one day, I walked up to my mentor. I told him what I was facing. He gave me hope with “beautiful words”. He told me how his file was misplaced in the same department. The misplacement of his file meant that he would not be recognized as the student of the department. He said he kept his hope strong. In the end, the department found his file. We shared somewhat similar stories. Then I decided I had no reason to kill myself and that if God could give him his, I would get mine too. In the end, I got it.

However, not all people can have the privilege I had. Some people prefer not to talk about their problems because they are afraid of courting negative remarks. These people later end up taking their lives. Then, the world begin to cry about their loss. Just this year, Kolapo Olowoporoku, a student of Obafemi Awolowo University, committed suicide for his repeatedly failing courses. Perhaps, his death would have been averted had he talked to reasonable people that would give him strong faith. Perhaps, people would have stopped him from killing himself had they talked to him when he began to show some strange behaviours after his failure. Also from the same University, Mercy Afolaranmi, a 16-year-old hundred level student of Microbiology took her life for failing a course too. These two scenarios show the link between academia and suicide. The burden of academia sometimes can lead one to depression especially for some freshmen on campus who get admitted as soon as they finish secondary school. These students do not understand the burden of higher institution: they have no experience. So, they are likely to get depressed for even slight difficulties they encounter. Thus, school authorities need to give them orientation about the stress and burden they may encounter in their course of study.

Some lecturers who find joy in failing students are not helping the matter. In a saner clime, if students fail a course, it amounts to worries for the lecturer who is taking the course. For it means, the lecturer has not done a great job in impacting the knowledge on the students. Though the students do not have the same brains, however, if half of the class fail a course conscience should prick a lecturer. Here, it’s rare to see a lecturer that will take it upon himself/herself the failure of his/her students. In fact, some lecturers will tell their students that they should not bother themselves of getting A as it is a tradition that no one can get it. How does one learn in this kind of environment! A humane lecturer will find a way to talk to his/her students when they fail his/her course. S/he will inquire if the student is battling with lack of concentration or something else.

The lackadaisical attitude of the school authorities towards alarming suicide rate among the students is worthy of note too. The school authorities are not after the mental health of students. This is evident in some lecturers’ attitude to lecturing. Imagine a lecturer who does not come to class but two weeks to the examination time and will use 7hrs at a go to teach students! These lecturers, as Niyi Osundare describes them in his Valedictory Lecture titled Universe in University, are more dangerous than the usual armed robbers we know for they murder the minds. They kill students as they kill the nation. Thus, in other to combat this attitude, school authorities should give out questionnaire to know the mental health of students. Because not all students can speak up their plights, school authorities should draft the questionnaire to know the mental conditions of students. Then, when they get the responses they should organize a seminar to sensitize them on how to combat their plights. This will show their love for humanity.

Suicide seems like a solution to a soul that has no option of a better life. But it is not. Our lives are better off while alive than on death. Time it may take, the stammerer will call his father. Time it may take, a child will become a father. Time it may take, our sweats will become a huge wealth. Time it may take, we shall have a better life. Time it may take, our sadness will turn to happiness.

This is high time we gave hope to people. Speak to a depressed friend. Give help to the needy. Show love to humanity. For no man is an island of himself, we are interconnected. Any man’s death should diminish us. We should show concern by preventing our fellow human beings from dying if we can. I believe we can.

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