Tunji, a 300 level student of a Federal University in Nigeria has been having a hard time in school lately. He thinks that life in school is really demanding and frustrating. Tunji has been trying to achieve a balance between work and play but however hard he tries, he seems not to be coping so well. Early morning lectures, assignments, field-work, and impromptu tests seem to be too much for him to handle – they were just too overwhelming.
He rarely now has time for other things like extra-curricular activities and hanging out with friends. The little time he can squeeze out, he spends sleeping.
Tunji has always been happy-go-lucky and friendly; however he was fast becoming a recluse. His roommates and friends had noticed the sudden change in him and sometimes they would often try to cheer him up and bring him out of shell but their attempts were often rebuffed.
On one of those days, Tunji felt that life was not just worth all the trouble. All his efforts in school were to what end? Gradually, he began to lose interest in everything; nothing seemed to matter to him anymore. Not his academics, personal grooming or relationships.
One morning, he decided not to attend lectures but stay back at the hostel. Picking up his phone, he updated his whatsapp profile picture with an animated picture that depicts a young man fed up of school, with the caption “this school haff tire me”. He also updated his status on other social media handles to “life is meaningless”. Minutes later, Tunji’s post and status had garnered some “likes” from his online friends. Later that day, his dad called to check on him, asking how he was doing.
Tunji in response told his dad he was just there and that he was just tired of everything. His dad encouraged him to put in his best and promised to send some money to him the following week.
Examination time soon came and Tunji, having already lost interest in academics, did not prepare. He however wrote the exams and immediately left for home afterwards.
While at home, Tunji also kept to himself – he ate alone in his room, he wouldn’t join his family in watching their favourite TV programme and made himself unavailable to his friends.
His mom noticed his unusual behaviour and mentioned her observations to her husband which he interpreted as being just a phase and he probably needing some alone time. “It would pass” her husband assured her. Sadly, Tunji and not the phase, passed. On a Sunday afternoon, after the family had returned from church and while lunch was being prepared, Tunji’s mother went to his room to find out when he had been discussing with the pastor earlier in church. Unfortunately, she met her son dead. He had hanged himself in his room – Tunji committed suicide.
Tunji’s story is indeed a pathetic one. But do you know that there are quite a number of potential “Tunji’s” around you today, silently screaming for help if only you would look and listen close enough?
Do you know that when Tunji updated his picture and status on his social media handle he was asking for help? Do you also know that his “I’m just there” response he gave to his dad was also his asking for help? Do you know that his withdrawal from his family and friends was a cry for help? Tunji was sending a signal, but no one got it right – neither his friends nor roommates in school, nor his online friends or his parents. There’s a challenge for you today.
Do you know that you could save as much “Tunji’s” today? All you need do is to genuinely care for others around you. Be observant, be sensitive, and watch out for others. Do you observe your neighbour (in the generic term) has not been his/her usual self? Then reach out today, tomorrow might just be too late. Make yourself available for others, give a word of cheer, encourage, and exude warmth and kindness. Let’s all reach out to the potential “Tunji’s” today. We definitely still need them around and life sure is good.