Ifeanyi Ugokwe: ‘Suicide is still a crime so I was locked up’
Just 25 years old, in 2019, Ifeanyi Ugokwe tried to take his own life after roaming the streets of Lagos, Nigeria, jobless, hungry, and desperate.
“I was depressed, I was frustrated. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have a family. I didn’t have anybody. So at a point I just felt that what’s the use of living. I just thought that maybe the other side might be better than here.”
Ifeanyi Ugokwe was saved by passing fishermen and handed over to police who arrested him because suicide is illegal in Nigeria. He faced up to one year in prison.
“When they put me in a cell the first thing that came to my mind was ‘what did i do?’ I didn’t kill anybody, I didn’t steal, What am I doing here? I felt so small. It’s my life not the government’s life. I was even more depressed.”
The charges against him were eventually dismissed after two court appearances and several weeks on remand. Now he says he’s disillusioned with the justice system and is speaking out to stop others going through the same ordeal.
“At that point of our lives we need love not prison.”
“I am no longer depressed right now. Now I have people that I can turn to if I feel down or sad. I can talk to them.”
Desperate to turn his life around, he still feels left behind a system that should have helped him.