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Opinions of Thursday, 9 March 2017

Columnist: Frimpong Felix

Who killed our ladies?

“Suicide does not mean there was no killer”- unanimous

My roommate woke me up this morning and told me about a suicide news he received via whatsapp.

Immediately, I yelled, “not again”. Just this year, In less than 3 weeks, two university students have committed suicide and the question I ask is “who killed them”. You may deem this question as rhetorical, but in my view, it is a serious question that needs to be answered.

First, it was Adwoa Agyarka Anyimadu-Antwi, a first year student of the Kwame Nkrumah University of science and technology (KNUST) and now, my year mate, a level 400 university of Ghana Student.

On 26th of February, the police came out with a report on what the real cause of death of the knust level 100 student was: Broken heart. Against what many suspected to be the cause: failure in some courses.
As I write now, the police does not know what exactly caused the demise of Jennifer Nyarko: The final Year University of Ghana student.

Some residents of the hall say she suffered from hay fever, others say her boyfriend broke her heart, others even say she had some academic challenges.

Whatever the cause was, what really killed her is depression. Depression when not treated has a very high chance of leading to suicide. The American Psychiatry Explained Depression (major depressive disorder) as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.

... Feeling sad or having a depressed mood.

Ndetei et al. (2010) indicated in their research: Annals of General Psychiatry, that “The more depressed the patients were on the overall BDI-II score, the higher the prevalence of suicidal symptoms.
…Depression is the leading mental disorder associated with suicide especially if there is hopelessness and comorbid acute psychosocial stressors. Physical conditions and depression are often comorbid”.

As the KNUST lady committed suicide, many insulted her for killing herself over failing an exams or losing a boyfriend. What they refused to understand is that People don’t just kill themselves because they failed exams or have had their hearts broken or have lost loved ones or have even lost their jobs.

Even though they are the contributors, what really does the killing is depression. And since anyone can be depressed, then anyone can commit suicide. No wonder the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Authority, Dr. Akwasi Osei revealed that, Ghana records about 1,500 suicide cases annually.

Now the killers.

As the adage goes: There is no smoke without fire.

If you are lying in bed with a friend and he or she starts complaining of severe headache and you procrastinate taking him/her to the hospital and he or she eventually dies, who will you say killed him/her? Of course you did not put the head ache there but you could have helped save his or her life. So are these killers: They are not the people who tied Adjoa’s rope for her or pushed Jennifer down. Rather, these are people who could have stopped them from considering taking their lives.

There are two groups of people who I will say facilitated the suicide process.

I was recently told about a university of Ghana student who went to the Legon hospital for treatment. After the treatment, the doctor asked “Is there anything else I can do for you?”. The lady wept like a baby. This lady apparently had never been asked this question. She obviously had a lot to pour out to the doctor.

All the typical university of Ghana lecturer is interested in is giving as many assignments to students and increasing their stress levels. They hardly talk to us. The typical university of Ghana lecturer has visiting hours: Official hours to see students. And most of those hours, students meet their absence.

Students who feel ashamed of going to the counseling center (Which should not be the case) may prefer to see lecturers, who in this case has strict visiting hours and has no relationship with students.
Even though the person who ultimately kills the self is the victim, the people who spend more time with him or her is the roommate. Making them the very first point of contact before other course mates and friends see them.

Jennifer’s close friend in an interview said her friend (Jennifer) has not being herself in the past few weeks. One of her roommates also revealed that Jennifer was on the phone with someone for a long time with what seemed like an unpleasant conversation the night before her demise. The signs were clear, but as usual, they were boycotted.

So as a roommate when u notice some abnormal behaviors in your fellow roommate’s life style, you quickly have to draw the attention of a peer counselor or even the university counselors. But NO! In our universities today, we trivialize such observations which later lead to the depression disorder aggravating and finally leads to suicide.

We don’t want any more deaths. Start being a good lecturer or head of department or even a roommate. Report any strange recent behavior to the counseling center or call any peer counselor.