Sniper, which is technically described as a DDVP (2,2-Dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate compound), until recently; was a very effective insecticide. The agro-chemical is popular among many Nigerians for its effectiveness in killing insects and rodents. However, the once-upon a time pest-killer is now being used by some Nigerians to commit suicide. Before the recent choice of sniper, Gamallin; also an agricultural insecticide was hitherto being used by many Nigerians.
A study conducted by the Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN) in Lagos State University Teaching Hospital shows that out of 66 suicide victims cumulatively recorded in 2018, only about 37.9 per cent committed suicide through the use of conventional means while about 62.1 per cent consumed sniper. The result of this research is indeed disheartening as it shows the rate at which Nigerians now use sniper to terminate their lives.
Some of the recent cases of suicide in the country include the case of Olarewaju Adekunle who took his own life some months after he bagged his National Diploma (ND) Certificate; as a result of depression occasioned by the way he was being treated by the people around him.
Also, late last year, Aisha Omolola, a student of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria committed suicide. Aisha’s suicide sparked lot of controversies, due to the mysteries attached with her death. Like Adekunle, she also dropped a suicide note before her death.
These incidences however generated a public outcry from different parts of the country, calling for drastic actions by the Federal Government to address the issue.
Placing embargo on the product is commendable, it is important to emphasize that banning the product is a temporary solution to the problem at hand. Therefore, there is need for the government to look into the issue critically and adopt a holistic plan to solve the problem permanently.
The Federal government should ensure all hands are on deck to ensure a total compliance to its directive. It therefore means that any unauthorized individual caught with this product after the September 1st deadline should be appropriately sanctioned to serve as deterrent to others, as failure to be firm on its directive will encourage some people to continue with the usage of the product.
Beyond banning, the government also needs to look at the root cause of suicide with a few to nipping the problem in the bud. Apart from sniper, there are many chemical products available in the market which can be used by people to commit suicide. Therefore, the ban of one out of other available insecticides will not and can never solve the problem.
Research shows that some people commit suicide due to depression. In realization of this fact, the government and other non-governmental organizations in the country should embark on serious campaigns and sensitizations to educate Nigerians on the causes and prevention of suicide. More importantly, government at all level must do something urgently to tackle poverty.
While the government has a role to play, the non-governmental organizations, civil societies, interest groups, and other relevant stakeholders in the country should also take it upon themselves to educate members of the public on this issue.