It is no longer news that our future leaders, our hope for tomorrow; the Nigerian youths commit suicide as a way of escaping life’s challenges, trials, complexities and problems. Heart-rending stories abound in our local newspapers of children, teens and young adults who terminated their lives at the snap of a finger.
I have always considered Nigerian youths as vibrant, fun- loving and adventurous beings. Never in my wildest imagination, have I thought of them as those who would take their own lives. One begins to ponder how we got here. This frightening issue calls for us to retrace our steps.
To start with, the home front needs to be thoroughly examined. The old adage “ children should be seen and not heard” ought to be thrown into the waste bin, as many children , teens and youths suffer in silence as they helplessly battle with depression, sexual abuse, ridicule, anxiety disorder, peer pressure, cyberbullying, eating disorder, substance abuse, poor grades, mental illness, alcoholism, schizophrenia and the likes.
Parents and guardians must as a matter of urgency teach their children or wards healthy self-image by encouraging them to speak out and not pretend that all is well with them. Young people should be taught not to run from reality by hiding from issues that need to be dealt with. Joyce Meyer in her book Teenagers Are People Too is of the opinion that ‘the longer you put it off, the longer you will be in bondage and pain’. It is absurd for adults to regard children and young people as dummies who have nothing to offer and as such they should keep mute not express themselves or communicate their worries or fear as the case maybe.
Also, parents and guardians should love their children or wards unconditionally that is loving an individual because of who the person is and not for what the person does. So, if a child fails an exam, instead of blowing the top, be firm and encourage the child to do better next time by studying harder. Exams are definitely important but they are not determinants of one’s success in life and they are not enough for one to kill oneself if one fails. Unconditional love in the home automatically builds a healthy self-image. Zig Ziglar in his book Raising Positive Kids In A Negative World says “if the child doesn’t feel he deserves love from his own parents, he assumes that he is unworthy of love, therefore, he should not love himself. Logically then, if he can’t love himself and feel good about himself, who will love him? Indeed, it is a very short step to feeling of no value- a nobody.”
We parents should also learn to say the magical words “I LOVE YOU “not only to our spouses but to our children and wards as well. Dads should give their sons hugs, it certainly reassures them. Be reminded that nobody is ever too big for a good old hug.
Also, avoid constantly reeling out your academic prowess and achievements, no matter how tempted you are. You might think you are trying to encourage your child to be a better human being or serve as a source of inspiration but in the long run, the child feels pressured to be just like you. This certainly causes more harm than good because it might lead to resentment or depression as the case may be. Each time I hear or come across pictures of young people, students; final year students or undergraduates who committed suicide due to poor grades or failed examination. I weep bitterly because such a person must have been under a lot of pressure probably from family or friends would ridicule or abuse him should failure come visiting.
Again, parents do not be too busy to pray for your children. You should know by now that all the training of this world without prayers do not hold water. Prophesy into the lives of your children or wards, go a step further by anointing then on the head or forehead and praying for them. Pray for God’s grace in their lives, honestly it takes the grace of God for one to fail WASSCE or any qualifying examination and still hold on strong enough to register for it the following year. You would be shielding them from the plans of the wicked by so doing, thereby fortifying them.
Every young person out there, should know that life is full of complexities and your ability to face it squarely rather than walking away from them is what makes you matured or experienced.
Please never give up. We need you, for you are valuable.