Gambling Related Suicide in Nigeria
The stress, pain and isolation that comes as a result of gambling associated problems may cause some people to see no way out of their situation leading to thoughts of suicide, attempted suicide and sometimes successful suicide.
In Nigeria for instance, there has been a lot of unreported cases of attempted suicide and suicide due to feeling of shame by family members and it is increasing by the day. Having an Initiative that deals with gambling related issues, we get a lot of stories that breaks the heart.
In May 2023, the story of Samuel Adegoke, a 200-level student Electrical-Electronics Engineering student of the Federal Polytechnics Ilaro, who lost his school fees and that of his school mate to online gambling and ended up taking his own life, went viral.
Fast forward to December 2023 the tragic suicide of Onoh Chukwuma Richard from Abia state has also gone viral. It was reported that Onoh who is a young man full of potential and popular on social media in Abia, lost N2.5 million in bets and resorted to taking his own life with an insecticide.
Few weeks ago, we saw a video showing multiple cut tickets from players who obviously placed bets with a betting company and a man on the floor looking despondent. We heard the narrator citing unemployment, harsh economy and endorsement by sports personalities for the reliance on sports betting as a means of survival.
As sad and shocking as these reported stories are, it is not isolated and there are a lot more unreported cases and so many more people with suicide ideation and no one to help them. The sinister grip of gambling addiction is claiming too many promising lives in Nigeria and yet it has not gained the type of needed attention.
There is need for more attention to be paid to responsible gambling and underage gambling prevention because while some people can exercise caution when staking/betting, there are many people who chase losses and ‘win big’ syndrome. They fail to realize that one advertised win might have bellied thousands if not millions of dashed hopes.
We have called attention to irresponsible advertisement, the role of celebrities and influencers in promoting excessive gambling without cautioning their followers of the potential harm that might arise if gambling is not engaged in a reasonable and responsible manner, especially with betting shops springing up in every nook and cranny.
Gambling is meant to be a form of entertainment; it is meant to be a fun activity at leisure time, but it has been turned to a get rich quick gateway. It is now seen as a source of income for many especially the youth, which is largely due to the unemployment level and economic situation in the country.
When betting/staking becomes an addiction, the effect can affect not just the individual but loved ones and society in general. Irresponsible marketing of these products tends to exploit the desperation and vulnerability of people especially the youths seeking a shortcut to financial freedom.
Players should learn not to allow the initial thrill of a win turn into a relentless quest for the next big win. In the world of play and bets, remember to walk away when it is no longer fun. Always remember that your life and well-being is worth much more than any financial setback you might have experienced.
Please don’t chase your losses to avoid going deeper into financial ruin, relationship breakdown, mental health disorders, and in the worst-case scenario as we are increasingly having today, suicide.
There should be strong focus on reducing underage gambling because research has shown that the earlier a person engages in risky activities like gambling, the likelihood that the person will develop gambling problems as an adult if not earlier.
Gaming Safe Initiative has an on-going school sensitization program for underage gambling prevention in different local government areas. All hands must be on deck to better steer the young ones right.
Play Responsibly, Don’t Play If You Can’t Afford to Lose!! Don’t Play at All If You are Underage!