Thursday, 7 June 2012

Our Students are now Suicidal.

Am I the only one paying attention or you have also once thought about the manner to which Young Nigerian students nowadays resort to suicide? Its really shocking and there is need for us to begin asking research questions about this on-going trend. Are our students truly now suicidal? What could be so frustrating about our academic institutions and environment that drives students to suicide as a last resort? What happened to our ever religious atmosphere and the suffering but would continue smiling Fela prophecy?

Could it be Peer Pressure? Tough Academics Administration? Poor Learning Conditions? Inadequate Infrastructures? Oppressive Lecturers? High Tuition Costs? Or, the mystical journey of having true love and romance? On the 25th of December, 2011 a student of Delta State University (DELSU), Diano Ovie-Richy, hung himself after leaving a parting suicide note on Facebook. Diano complained bitterly about life's frustrations before his depature. From investing 10 years of his life on education at DELSU and still not awarded a Bsc Degree to consistent set-backs in business enterprises he ventured on and most catalysing to conclusion of taking his life, an annulment of the supposed marriage with his long time girlfriend by her father; who at the time was expecting his child.

Sometime also in Febuary 2012, a student of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Ogun state, also took his life by poisoning himself after leaving a parting note to a friend, Bolarinwa Ojo on Facebook's Chat Messenger . Semiu Oladapo complained about the intricacies of having to narrowly survive each day, failures continuously experienced in petty jobs he did and the consistent expressive rejection he felt and received from peers.

Some days ago, another student of the National Open University Lagos, Ayodeji Balogun, said goodbye on his FaceBook Status; he went down the same route. Friends of Ayodeji said he injected himself with Go 90 at home early in the morning and later hung himself on a mango tree at his residence in Ipaja, Lagos. Ayodeji was a Choir Master at his local church and going through some strange but similar difficulties as Diano and Semiu in school.

A lot of people through comments have read claim these three guys would have been rehabilitated if at some point before their suicidal decision had access to professionals who counselled and mentored individuals of such psychological state. I agree. During my post-graduate study, I witnessed not only so much concern from academic staff about every student's perception of their method of teaching but also, non-academic staff's concern for students general well-being. It was flawless! It got to the stage where I began to not answer their calls and hid from them whenever I went to my department. They were overly concerned- which is a very good thing.

Where are their likes today in my country? We should have monitoring and effective Guidance/Counselling departments in our public varsities. If we had identifiable, accessible and solution driven counselling departments, Diano, Semiu and Ayodeji might had visited their offices and counselled with hope. But today in public universities, guidiance/counselling departments are as dormant as my offshore bank accounts. Yet, they so close and resume for work everyday. Most students troubled shouldn't even have to visit their office seeking for help. Through the university's network of proper inclusive processes, students' behavioural patterns to an extent can be pre-determined and monitored on a consistent basis by institutional established indicators. These should be facilitated from inception at every matriculation and induction exercise.

The effectiveness of every Guidance and Counselling department in Nigerian Uniiversities can disengage this growing suicidal trend. Measures and steps such as monitored class attendance and assessments, liaison with student organisations, more signages of counselling offices around campuses, peer discussion seminars, distribution of religious belief brochures, motivational symposiums and workshops, consistent informal staff and student rapports and, compulsory parent/guardian feedback forms should be taken. With proper implementation of these measures, the capability and psychological state of students if not predicted could be monitored silmutaenously and stalled before disastrous consequences such as suicides take place.

Please tell our Vice-Chancellors and Provosts that we love our students and each and everyone of us was a student at some point. If not through school, we all are still students of life. Vice-Chancellors and Provosts should wake their Guidiance/Counselling departments up from their donkey years of slumber. They can help reduce the number of our brothers taking their lives.

Jide Alara.

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