According to the National Institute of Mental Health, feelings of emptiness and hopelessness are some of the emotions associated with suicide.
Such were the feelings that overwhelmed Kenneth Ugochukwu, an ex-corps member, in January 2023, after being robbed of his valuable documents and losing his father shortly after.
Ugochukwu’s woes began after he passed out of the National Youth Service Corps, or NYSC, and moved to nearby Abuja for a new lease of life. Having no friend or relative to live with, he got robbed of all his valuables one wild night. He promptly moved to squat at the communal house of Christian corps members. Then one grey evening, Ugochukwu received a call from home.
“It was on a Sunday, January 29 in 2023, when we came back from Rural Rugged Evangelism. The evening of it, I was in the front seat in a viewing center watching a football match and suddenly, I lost interest in the match which my club, Chelsea was playing and I came back home disturbed. I sat on the bed lost in thoughts on what I was going to do with my robbed certificates, because that alone was a burden to me.
“As I was about to lie on the bed, I received an urgent call that my father was dead (on Saturday, January 28). I stood up and went to the Family House devotion Hall since I did not have to cry and disturb others in the house.
Ugochukwu’s life crumbled like a house of cards after the dual tragedies. He recalled contemplating suicide, feeling as though there was nothing to live for.
“I bought this rodent killer called ‘No Mercy’ and hid it in my pocket, and I was drinking it like tea because I was looking for any fast means to kill myself. I felt nothing was worth living for. It was not easy. I don’t know why it didn’t kill me. The only effect I felt was that I was passing out kerosene-like waste,” explained Kenneth as his eyes welled up with tears.
More than 700,000 people take their lives every year, according to WHO. In Nigeria, the age-standardised suicide rate was 6.9 per 100,000 population in 2019, across both sexes, with male suicide rates at 10.1 per 100,000 population.
The dawn of salvation
The head of the house, called the chief shepherd, was tidying up his clothes at the time Ugochukwu received the ill-fated call. Aware of Ugochukwu’s robbery ordeal, the chief shepherd felt compassion for Ugochukwu, having heard about his father’s death. At the next devotion, the following morning, the Chief Shepherd promptly informed the house about the news, and enjoined house members to assist Ugochukwu financially.
“During our devotion, when we had a full house, the CS announced it to the house and solicited that I be supported. That was how I started receiving tokens from house members. I was supported in various forms.
“I can’t appreciate enough those who came through for me because they gave me life. There were some midnights I would wake up and begin to drink the poison I bought just to end life; life had no meaning to me anymore then. If I knew any other poison, I would have added to it,” Ugochukwu said.
Not only did the Christian corps member empathize with his predicament, Ugochukwu added that he also began to receive tokens from his church members and also from the police when he reported the incident of his lost documents.
“In my suicidal displays, one of our roommates observed and gave me money to do welcome back on my SIM card, while another gave me a double SIM Nokia phone. Even some church people gave me money to go report my stolen documents in the police station in Area 10. Even at the police station after explaining to the officer who attended to me, she refused to collect money from me. That also gave me hope to live, he disclosed.”
The flood of gifts and care promptly banished Ugochukwu’s thoughts of suicide and he soon discarded the rat poison he had bought earlier.