The rising rate of depression, mental health issues and suicide amongst people especially the youth in recent times has been of great concern to me and like most of us, I have wondered severally at the various factors that would drive someone to the brink of insanity, depression and the hopelessness of suicide.
I know that there are several factors that account for a person losing hope, some of them, like genetics, temperamental dispositions etc are factors we can’t really do much about, I however believe that our society plays a huge part in driving people to the precipice of mental illness or death.
We are quick to share our ignorant opinions on things we know nothing about with an assurance that is frightening, pass judgment on issues without knowledge of the total facts, condemn and cast aspersions on people we know nothing about mostly because we have access to them through social media.
We have become a society that is not empathetic, largely judgmental and condemning and it’s no wonder people are having emotional and mental issues and committing suicide. The family structure which should be a haven for each and everyone of us is dying. People are unkind, selfish and to a large extent very ignorant about life and all it entails.
I recently read about a young man that committed suicide, he was a Christian and a member of a church . When the news of his death broke, there were several versions as to why he killed himself. The most popular reasons being that he had accommodation issues and that his wedding had been cancelled because he had been involved in another relationship with some else.
I went through the comments on the post that carried the story and what struck me the most was the fact that most people rather than wonder at the hopelessness that would make a man kill himself, were attempting to absolve the several churches that were mentioned in relation to him and also cursing an already dead man, yes cursing and condemning him to hell.
Even in death we judge people, we stand in the place of God and say who will and who will not enter heaven. We are quick to condemn and pass judgment on people forgetting that we are also human and could be besieged by whatever ails the other.
We are more concerned about the image of the institutions that we belong to and not the people within the institutions. We are more concerned about where a man will spend his eternity rather than how he lived his life here on earth, forgetting that if we help him live a worthy life here on earth, his eternity will be taken care of.
Please understand me, I am not saying we should not reprove or even condemn when we see something wrong or that people should not be punished or be allowed to suffer the consequences of their actions. I am saying that we should be kind to one another, be able to differentiate between the act and the person, to know that sometimes the act does not make the person, that we all make mistakes and that we should not always be judged by our actions.
I’II give an example- a child is pregnant or has impregnated someone out of wedlock. It is natural as parents to be sad because our dreams for that child may become thwarted or delayed and so we call the child names, condemn the child, punish them and remove privileges. I agree with all that but the problem is that most times we go overboard.
As the yorubas say “we spank a child with one hand and with the other draw him closer.”
We are, however, so consumed with our emotions and thoughts of how that child’s actions has affected us that after the “spanking” we forget to draw the child closer. We forget that the child, inspite of their demeanor is scared, uncertain of their future, vulnerable and hungry for our acceptance and affirmation. We forget the child and focus on their actions and our pain. The child in turn suffers in silence and internalizes the pain which if not addressed correctly becomes an emotional and mental issue.
If we are more empathetic our interventions in the life of anyone will be more constructive than destructive . We can achieve a lot and get the desired effects by being more understanding, less abusive, putting ourselves in the shoes of whoever we are dealing with and looking at life from their peculiar perspective.