No parents should bury their child. I’m alive today because my son, who wanted to commit suicide was unsuccessful.
I said I’m alive because if he has succeeded, I’ll also die.
He’s just 23 years but he finished service last year. He entered Uni at 17, finished at 21 and after his one year NYSC, my husband and I, wanted him to go abroad to do his Masters. In the interim, we encouraged him to find work and he got a job as a computer analyst at a small firm in Apapa.
Now my son, his name is Tony, doesn’t have friends; I mean like your typical young man with friends and girls on the side.
He is an introvert, like most nerds. He has been like that since childhood. So it wasn’t strange to me that he didn’t have friends coming to our house like his elder brother. That one not only has too many friends, they often slept over at our house, too.
So Tony not having friends wasn’t strange in that sense. When he was much younger, I would ask him why he didn’t want to go to birthday parties he was invited to and he’ll tell me he preferred to stay at home. When I tried to force him to go out, he would cry a lot until I gave up.
Now, though he had just a handful of friends; one in our estate, one from school at the university but his main friend is his cousin. This cousin is my husband’s sister’s son; they are about the same age, incidentally, his name is also Tony.
Tony, the cousin is the only one who visits my son the most and my son visits. Yet, Cousin Tony has other friends, he is very outgoing, not like my Tony.
So my Tony went to work on Friday; that day, he woke up normal, dressed up normal and left him at the same time he normally did.
I got a call around 2.30pm, one of my son’s colleagues called, saying they didn’t see my son at work and wondered if he was ill.
I was alarmed because I have a boutique close to where we live; I would see anyone who goes in and comes out of our estate.
I didn’t see Tony that morning or afternoon, he would usually stop by at my shop anyway.
I called his phone but no response; it said the phone was switched off.
I almost lost my mind. It means my son didn’t get to work and he did not get home. Was he kidnapped? One chance? Did he have an accident on the road to work? I can’t tell you the number of crazy thoughts that ran through my head that day.
I called my husband and he was home around 4pm. By that time, I had gone to report my son missing at the police station close to us.
The police said we had to wait for 48 hours before declaring him missing.
I called people who lived and worked around us and in Apapa area, to ask if they heard about any accidents? Was there a kidnap incidence? You know that sort of thing?
There was nothing strange to report.
And with police not helping, my husband and I were just making calls to friends and family. My son and husband went to the hospitals and mortuaries along our house to the office…just in case. There was no body, this in itself was relief for me.
My second son then designed an e- flyer with the photo of Tony as missing person; he forwarded to all his contacts, telling them to forward even further.
Thank God for the flyer.
The third day, someone contacted the number on the flier saying he had seen my son at Epe.
Imagine, we live at Ikeja, he works at Apapa, someone sighted him at Epe!
Where do we start looking because by the time we got to where he was said to have been sighted, no one in that area recalled seeing him.
We contacted the police in that area and we were told to come back the following day.
Anyway to cut a long story short, someone called us to tell us he could help locate the last place my son’s phone pinged because you see, after that day, we couldn’t reach his phone.
The last ping was in that same Epe area.
We were still at the local police station when Tony, the cousin while scrolling through his phone saw a twitter direct message from his friend and cousin, my Tony, telling him he was going to a certain place in Epe to commit suicide that very day.
He even told Tony where to bury him; when I heard the post read out, I said, God forbid!
Thankfully we were in Epe
Thankfully we found the place he said he would be, looking dirty, disheveled and alone.
Thankfully, he was still alive.
So here’s what happened.
When he got to Epe, he wrote that message to his friend, Tony telling him he wanted to end it nd had in fact failed two suicides in the hotel room he rented.
Reason for suicide?
Do these children ever tell their parents anything?
Some of what he said was; he felt nobody understood him;
he felt alone, felt himself to be a failure.
He had a small circle of friends and he always felt alone…
He had no girlfriend
He had no money like some of his mates…
I was shocked and as a mother, I asked myself, where did I go wrong with this boy?
This is a boy we were saving to go abroad to continue his studies. This is a boy who had finished school earlier than his mates, this is a boy I thought was a happy boy, contented with his life and…in short, all of the reasons he listed were as far as I was concerned, silly…but maybe they aren’t silly if he wants to die because of these.
We have taken him to the hospital because this suicide thing is not ordinary eye.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)