In the early morning of Tuesday 23 of April 2019, I came across a disheartening thread on Nairaland Forum here about a final year student of O.A.U, Ile-Ife by name Kolapo Olowoporoku said to have committed suicide over failure in repeated courses and I wept. I believed his death was an avoidable one if only those who observed that he looked depressed as written in the thread had shown a little care and concern to find out what was bugging him and helped him; my condolence to his family, friends and loved ones over his demise.
Suicide as a result of failure and poor results especially by youths is a problem becoming one too many in Nigeria and must be addressed and I decided to write to condemn it as a follow-up to all that I have written on suicide in my blog www.lovelashblog.com. Kolapo was said to have become depressed and committed suicide as a result of poor results though there might be other underlying contributory problems too. Depression is real and it is a common problem across all ages. DEPRESSION IS DANGEROUS AND MUST BE HANDLED WITH CAUTION.
According to the renowned Christian counselor Gary R. Collins, Ph.d. “depression overwhelms its victims with feelings of despair, fear, exhaustion, immobilizing apathy, hopelessness, inner desperation, and thoughts of suicide.” Unfortunately, depression is said to be high among youths schooling than their counterparts not in school. Therefore, the Federal Government and all arms of government and religious leaders should as an act of urgency establish counseling centers and create units in the hospitals for depressed persons. SALES OF POISONS SHOULD BE CENSORED.
Since Kolapo was said to have become depressed as a result of poor results in school, we shall be looking at some of the likely causes of him becoming depressed as a result of this such as:
1) Overrated University education and certificate: From his name, he is most likely to be an indigene of Ekiti state of Nigeria. Ekiti state is one state where University education and certificates are overrated. Right now in Ekiti state possessing a first degree is almost like having just S.S.C.E. Ekiti has the highest number of Professors in Nigeria. Almost every family in Ekiti can boast of at least a Ph.D. holder and many master’s degree certificate holders. So, having poor results for someone coming from such state or family background that set unrealistic high and rigid educational standards is capable of making one feel unworthy and depressed. Striving to meet up with parents high demands in education is one area where many students come under great pressure and this must stop.
It is worth knowing that although meeting up with the high standards of attainment in education or in other areas is good if one has the capability. However, it is not what determines one’s success in life, God is. Therefore, it is not a big deal either one attained the set high standard successfully or not. The most important thing to do in anything is to ensure one puts in his/her utmost best. Once you are satisfied that you have done your best then leave the rest. If your best effort does not meet up to the set standard then forget about it and move ahead with your life. Once you see that you are not measuring up to standard in your course of study, seek for counsel and consider a change of course of study. Please, go for the courses of your interest because you are the one to read for it and your interest in it helps in achieving success. No matter what happens God’s plan will surely come to pass even in the face of failures. If I may ask you who is contemplating suicide because of failure these questions:
How many of the Nigeria heads of states by whichever title they are called, Governors, Senators, and Kings past and present are university/polytechnic graduates? How many of the millionaires, billionaires, contractors, oil migrates, businessmen and women, musicians and theater artists and great Artists are university graduates? How many of the university graduates who came out with good results are working with their course of studies and how many are working with their certificates?
I am not undermining the value of obtaining good results from the University or being a University graduate. University Education and certificate are good, however, it is not the determination of success in life as we can see in the lives of great people who are university dropouts such as Bill Gates of Microsoft fame; Steve Jobs of Apple fame; Michael Dell of Dell computers fame; Mike Lazaridis of Blackberry fame; Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook; Julian Assange of Wikipedia. SO DON’T KILL YOURSELF IF YOU HAVE TO DROP OUT OF THE UNIVERSITY.
As a retired teacher, I can say it categorically that some of the parents that set high standards for their children contributed to their children’s poor performances in the universities because they forced their children/ward to read courses such students are not interested in or can cope with academically just for their selfish /status seeking interests. PARENTS SHOULD STOP FORCING THEIR CHILDREN TO DO COURSES OR ANYTHING THE CHILDREN HAVE NO INTEREST TO STUDY.
2) Physiological pains of failure: He was said to have failed two repeated courses, implying he has to rewrite then again the third time which he did not want to do. He tolerated the first failure probably thinking he did not put in his best efforts at the first attempt perhaps due to his activities in student unionism. He most likely had read hard in preparation for the exams of the repeated courses with high hopes. But alas he failed them again! This second-time failure broke him totally; he then gave up on himself and committed suicide. Or could his suicide action be an indication of anger at himself or his lecturers? No one but himself knew the reason why he did what he did since he left no suicide note.
Failure could be a very painful experience especially when one had put in so much effort and when one has the assurance to have done one’s best. Failure in certain aspects of life considered as walkovers could be embarrassing. Nothing compares with the disappointment that one feels in such a situation. It is very demoralizing, making one confused, downcast and hopeless, all which leads to depression. However, suicide is not the way out! Failure as much as it hurts is also a necessary part of life. Failure is not an end of life so don’t give up and don’t kill yourself because you failed. Failure, like other challenges in life, is a common experience which implies everyone had failed at one time or the other. That you failed is not an indication that it is over for you until God says it is over. “Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure, it just means you have not succeeded yet” says Robert. H. Schuler
The number of times you failed at doing something is not an indication that you cannot overcome it. It is worth knowing that many of the world successful people such as Abraham Lincoln (the 16th President of U.S.) Albert Einstein, Sir Dyson, Charles Darwin, Colonel Harland Sander the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken just to mention a few endured most failures in life. They didn’t give up by killing themselves; rather they kept on trying and trying until they succeeded. PLEASE DON’T KILL YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU FAILED JAMB OR ANY EXAM AT ALL. When you are faced with any difficulty including failure, know that many others have passed through it and came out successful at the end. “Whom resist, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” 1 Peter 5: 9.
3) Shame is likely another cause of his depression: Kolapo was said to have been the class representative if his set and also an Exco (former financial secretary of the student association of the University); these are positions of authority and power for the brilliant ones and not just for dullards. Class representatives and Excos are famous and popular students known by lecturers and students. A close study of his passport photograph used for the write up announcing his death revealed he was good looking and fashionable. Therefore, putting all these together, one can conclude he belonged to the high class of the University. His failure in repeated courses must have caused him great shame in view of his status. Shame is a feeling arising from the consciousness of something one considers embarrassing and dishonorable done by oneself. It makes one very sad, angry, lonely, empty and depressed. It is not easy for many people to accept, face and manage failure. His shame would be multifaceted
a) Shame of being seen attending lectures while his mates had graduated and completed their mandatory NYSC.
b) Another might be the shame of repeating the exams with those who were his juniors perhaps.
c) His shame was public. Shame is of two types private and public. Private shame is what one feels all alone when one’s problem is limited to oneself alone e.g. an unpublicized rape case. Public shame is the shame one faces when one’s case is known to many people. The fact that he was an office holder implied he was a public figure that people expected much from, and his failure was very obvious. As a public figure, many on seeing him on the campus while his mates had left would ask him what he was doing on the campus. He most probably could no longer withstand all the finger pointing and him being an object of discussion and gossip on the campus.
One thing I wished he and others who would allow shame to overwhelm them is that there is nothing new under the sun. There is nothing that happened to one that has not happened to others before. It is not a big deal for a leader to fail. After all, leaders are human beings and all humans fail at one point or the other. Therefore there is nothing to be ashamed of when one fails. The fall of a man is not the end of his life. “Don’t be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again” Richard Branson. “A failure doesn’t mean you are unworthy. Nor does it preclude success on the next try” says Leonard Miodinor.
4) Loneliness: Another problem that most probably might have made him depressed as a result of the poor result was loneliness. It is very obvious that he must have been alone and lonely due to many factors. Firstly, his mates, friends, and associates had left for NYSC leaving him behind. Secondly, failure tends to make one feel unworthy thereby making one to withdraw/isolate oneself from others. Another thing likely to have happened is a likely fall out with God which would make him feel that life has no meaning and purpose. Last but not the least is the fact that challenges particularly failure makes many so-called friends and associates to desert one because according to John F..Kennedy “victory has a hundred fathers but failure is an orphan.” Kolapo was definitely alone and lonely. Gary R, Collins, Ph.D. has this to say about loneliness, “Loneliness is the painful awareness that we lack close and meaningful contact with others. It involves a painful feeling of isolation, and sadness and a deep desire to connect with others. Even when they are surrounded by others, lonely people may feel left out, unwanted, rejected, or misunderstood. Frequently there is depression, self-criticism, restlessness, and anxiety, accompanied by a longing to be wanted…Lonely people sometimes have hopelessness that can lead to despair and even thoughts of suicide.” Suicide does not end loneliness; therefore it is not an option. Can anyone think of a lonelier place as a lonely grave in the bush?
One truth we should know is that everybody feels lonely at one time or the other and get over it. However, there are certain life situations that makes one have long overwhelming feelings of loneliness. In such cases, one needs the help of God through renewed commitment and assurance of a better tomorrow, support and help by family and loved ones to get over it on time.
I was sad when I read that portion that revealed that people said they noticed “Kolapo looked depressed but they did not know what made him depressed” therefore they did nothing to find out what was wrong. What else do they need to see to know that he needed help than his looks? Please know that a change in a person’s look or appearance reveals their inner state of mind. A person with a depressed appearance is no longer in control of himself or what he does. Such people need help very fast. For this reason, there is the need for each and every one of us to be our brother’s keeper by showing love and concern to those we perceive are having challenges by visiting them and empathizing with them. We should keep them company and give them encouraging words that will make them see the bright side of life. At times, they should be made to seek health care because depression is a mental health problem.
Departmental Course advisers should please do their work and recommend the weak students to counselors who would follow them up. More than anything Universities should put in place ways of counseling students with poor results or with carry-overs. Please read more on how to know a person who might be contemplating suicide from www.lovelashblog.com.
5) Insensitivity of parents and friends: It is a pity that many families and friends are getting less concerned and showing little or no kindness and empathy to those who need it in their families. The humiliation, ridicule and mockery some children that have challenges with their education or other areas are subjected to in many African homes could be likened to the distress and agony someone carrying soldier ants infested log of wood on one’s head suffers. They receive lots of bashing from left and right. Most parents and the society at large are of the opinion that when someone fails, that person is either lazy or not serious, which on most occasion is not the case. An African parent sees every avenue as one to remind the child that he failed. He would be told to go and start reading whenever he is seen without a book. A child that failed dare not do anything wrong without the parent not linking it to the reason he failed. Greater trouble awaits anyone that failed and has brilliant elder/younger siblings because that would be a cause for endless comparisons. It is annoying that same parents who forced their children to read courses they did not want to read in the University or who used the money to buy admission for their children who are not qualified would turn around to heap blames on such children for failing.
African parents should please try and be more understanding and encouraging. It is high time we learn to be more understanding towards those our children/ward having educational challenges. The time they are facing challenges is not the time such children should be subjected to insults and abuses because such a person is already going through some emotional pains that come with failure. What they need are your support and understanding.
Some so-called friends would use the opportunity to say all forms of rubbish in the name of giving advice. Miserable advisers they are. Nothing is as painful as been mocked and tongue lashed by people who should understand our plight and comfort us.
To those who might find themselves in unpalatable situations please know that what people think or say you are is of no significance rather what God says and what you believe, think and say about yourself is all that matters. Note that some of the world’s successful people such as Albert Einstein, and Charles Darwin, and several others endured lots of insults from family members and they did not give up. If you fail, never give up because failure is not an end.
Please if you need someone to talk to, I am available.
GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I.