The tragic suicide of a Lagos hairdresser

The tragic suicide of a Lagos hairdresser

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Kenile Nwabuzor was 26-year-old when she took her own life in her home in Lagos after what seemed like a depressive bout. Reports in the press and online indicate that she had become agitated over what she considered a betrayal of her trust by her boyfriend, David. She seemed anxiety stricken and threatened to take her life via a WhatsApp message which David did not see on time. In an interview with the press, David, a photographer, explained that they had been in a relationship since 2017 when she lost her mother and always complained that he was having an affair whenever she saw him in the company of girls with whom he worked. He added that because she was pretty, she also had some male friends but he trusted her and wanted her to trust him. He said she was not confident because while he had a degree, she did not, but he had assured her that it was her he wanted to be with.

The interview was difficult for me to read because there were missed opportunities to save her and I felt sorry for David who had been managing Kenile but who is now left with the unfortunate stigma of having his girlfriend commit suicide on his account. His interview gave several hints as to the mental state of Kenile. He said she easily got angry and went on to add, “If we had a misunderstanding, I could be in her house for hours begging her and she would not say anything. If I decided to go, that would be another fight, at times, this… would last for days.” David said for the best part of the week when the tragic incident happened, she had started the accusations again and ended the relationship, at which point, he told her she could go ahead and find her peace wherever suited her. He said he visited her on Tuesday to return her charger and Kenile returned everything he had bought for her. In the same week, she had met his father for the first time who tried to counsel her after she reported David to him. In all of this there was a lot of crying which David felt was emotional but a lot more was going on.

Before people get to suicide, there would have been many signs to indicate something is wrong. Workmates, relations and friends of Kenile would have noticed. David was right when he said she was depressed and he was always encouraging her. At the salon where she worked, her mood swings would have been apparent and her neighbours and friends would also have seen many changes. In today’s modern world, we tend to move on with our lives and hardly stop long enough to know how people are actually doing. We ask, how are you but we don’t pay attention to the answers. David had borne the burden of grief, the mood swings, the crying, the anger, the suspicions, the accusations and other disruptive behaviour in between. It is difficult to manage someone with anxiety, depression and other forms of mental illness and David probably thought it will all go away someday. By the time he asked her to move on if she wanted, he was tired of what he probably thought was his girlfriend’s drama. He had reached breaking point and she had reached the point of no return.

It is sad that compounding all of these was Kenile’s loneliness and low self- esteem. Her brothers were in Ghana and David was the only family she had. There is nothing more important than a support base when someone is lonely and family and friends often provide that. With her mum gone and on the verge of losing David everything simply crashed upon her.

Help could have come if David understood what was going on better and sought help for her with a Psychologist or someone in the field. Resilience is not easy. Talk therapy could also have helped. A relationship expert could have helped. David himself was overwhelmed. We do not have enough of these resources in Nigeria and we do not understand depression.

Let us pause a little and pay more attention. There are too many needless suicides. We can do more.


Eugenia Abu

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