A study of suicide incidents in Nigeria has revealed that hanging is the leading method used by victims of self-murder in the country for the past two years.
Reports show that most of the victims of suicide in 2021 took their life through hanging, as was also the case in 2020.
When Massmediang began this study in 2019, use of sniper insecticide was the leading method that year but the subsequent years have seen suicide maintain the lead as the option most used by suicide victims in taking their life.
A summary of the reports of incidents in the media shows that 41 suicide incidents were recorded in the country in 2021. This shows a drop in suicide cases by 12 compared to total number of incidents in 2020 which was 63.
One startling revelation from this study conducted by Massmediang, an online news platform, is that there was a rise in incidents involving hanging as a method of suicide among Nigerians. In 2019, 28% of all suicide cases were through hanging while in 2020, majority of the suicide victims took their life through hanging. The data further show that for the third year, more males committed suicide than females, with a huge gap between the two genders.
Below is a detailed analysis of suicide incidents in Nigeria in 2021 as reported by the media.
Details of data on reported cases of suicide in the Nigerian media in 2021 show that a total of 41 suicide incidents took place across the nation throughout the year. Of this number, 32 representing 78% were male while 9 (22%) were female. This shows that for the third year, more males committed suicide in Nigeria and the margin between the gender of victims is high – 78% males as against 22% females. Among those who committed suicide in 2021, 40 were adults above 18 years of age while one was 13 years old. The marital status of 34 of the victims was given while 7 were not mentioned in the reports. Of the 34 mentioned, 22 (65%) were single while 12 (35%) were married.
The method of suicide was also recorded in the study. Data show that 37 of the 41 reported cases mentioned the method which was adopted by the victims in committing suicide while this information was not given in 4 of the incidents. Of the 37 stories which indicated method of suicide, hanging led with 15 (40%) of the incidents, use of sniper insecticide came next with 11 (30%) of the incidents, gunshot (where victims shot themselves with firearms) had 5 (14%) of the incidents, while 6 (16%) were recorded as ‘others’ and this includes various methods such as jumping into the lagoon, setting self ablaze, and other methods not categorized separately in the study. This means that for the second year running, hanging has led as the method of suicide in Nigeria, as was the case in 2020. This is contrary to what happened in 2019 when use of sniper insecticide led as method of suicide in Nigeria.
Details of victim’s occupation shows that majority of those who committed suicide in 2021 were students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Out of the 41 reported incidents of suicide in the year in review, 28 cases had occupation of victims indicated in the reports while 13 reports did not provide this information. Occupation was categorized as students, government employed, self/privately employed, and unemployed. Of the 28 cases which had their occupation indicated, 11 were students, 9 were self/privately employed, and 8 were government employees.
In terms of where the incidents happened, 31 of the incidents had their geographic location mentioned in the reports while 10 were not given. Of the 31 mentioned, 24 (77%) happened in the Southern part of Nigeria while 7 (23%) happened in the northern part of the country. Details show that 9 cases representing the highest number of incidents were recorded in the South West geopolitical zone of the country (Lagos – 3, Ondo – 2, Osun – 2, Oyo – 1, Ogun – 1). This is followed by South East which recorded 8 incidents (Anambra – 4, Imo – 2, Enugu – 1, Ebonyi – 1). Next is South South zone which recorded 7 incidents (Delta – 4, Akwa-Ibom – 1, Bayelsa – 1, Edo – 1). The North Central zone recorded 3 incidents (Kwara – 2, Abuja – 1). The North West zone also recorded 3 incidents (Jigawa – 1, Kano – 1, Katsina – 1). The North East zone recorded 1 incident (Taraba – 1).
It is pertinent to note that suicide incidents which were studied are those reported in the media. There are a few reports that were circulated in the social media but were refuted by either victims’ family members or authorities in their workplace. Such cases were left off the study. It is also possible that one or two reports may have been missed out during the study and this is part of the margin of error. Data for the month of May were not included in this report due to some challenges faced while compiling the summarized analysis. However, the facts presented here largely represent the trend of suicide incidents in Nigeria in 2021, as reported in the media. Cases of suicide which took place in Nigeria were the focus of study.
Selection of the media for the content analysis followed a random pattern of identifying the ones that reported suicide cases. Massmediang monitored media reports on a daily basis to identify reported cases of suicide both in the social and mainstream media. In most cases, reports found in one medium were crosschecked with other media to authenticate the incident.
How the study was done
Massmediang adopted the data journalism technique in reporting the trend of suicides in 2020. Suicide reports in the media were compiled and published on a monthly basis, from January to December 2021. These media reports were then compiled and analysed to come up with the final report on total suicide incidents throughout the year.
The complete list of suicide victims in various states of the country was also recorded in the study. Most of the incidents were cross-checked in both social and mainstream media to further measure authenticity of the incidents. The doubtful incidents which appeared in just one or two social media platforms were not recorded.