Social media age: How can an African child say s/he is depressed? – Peju Akande

Social media age: How can an African child say s/he is depressed? – Peju Akande



Social media will be the death of this present generation


Okay, it may also be its saving grace.


It all depends.


I watched Taooma’s recent skit. “Mummy, I am depressed” and though I found it very hilarious, I found important lessons to be learned.


In the last few years, suicide rate among the youth has been on the rise. Actually, I should say suicide among very young people; children as young as 13 to 20 years have been taking their lives due to ‘depression.’





I put “depression” in quote marks because it is a relatively new expression to people in my generation. ‘New’ because we didn’t use it as often as kids these days do. It was not something we fully expressed. If we did, we thought it was an alien feeling, one only white people felt. Maybe we had it and didn’t have the right expression for it but committing suicide; when things weren’t going good for us or when we were unhappy was just not one of our choices.


We would rather think of running away (to prove a point) than killing ourselves.



ALSO READ: If you want to kill your child, follow these three easy steps – Peju Akande



The very thought that if we died, our mothers or fathers would flog us right back to life, just didn’t make the idea a good one!


But with children of this social media age these days, depression is a usually quick explanation; especially when they find themselves confronted with issues they think they have no solution to; or when they imagine nobody cares for them. They sink into a funk and the next thing to do is suicide.


Methinks they are being influenced a lot from what they get from social media.


Wait before you attack and cancel me, let’s pause and reflect.


Is this meant to make light of the problems faced by teens who have died through suicide? Not at all.


Depression is real, no doubt. But there are elements to all of these.


I was watching an old episode of House, that medical series, on Amazon. It’s a Season 3 episode, can’t quite recall the title. A young female college student had slowly been poisoning herself in a bid to commit suicide. Her loving parents were shocked when they found out through Dr. House. She later confessed to being ‘unhappy’…




Social media age: How can an African child say s/he is depressed? – Peju Akande



This is a kid that had everything going on for her; rich parents, she was beautiful, getting good grades, was a keen sports enthusiast…generally looking good on the outside…


At the end of it, Dr. House prescribed therapy and drugs to help her. What that episode showed me is that depression is a mental thing that requires drug and therapy for treatment.


Incidentally, on that same day, I came across Taooma’s skit, “Mummy I am depressed…


Like your typical African mother, Mummy said, “Eehnn, God forbid! Depressed? Where? How? Where’s it coming from? You will never be depressed…Go and wash all the amala pots inside the kitchen…and carry all the other pots… Now you have something to do. Depression ke! Where is it coming from?”


This is why most of us in the older generation can’t seem to wrap our head fully around it when our younger relatives and kids say they are depressed. Many think, when they say they are depressed, they must be idle. They are loitering around the corridors of social media. They are imbibing – without filters – cultures alien to their parents; hence the disconnect between parents and their children.


We can’t understand our kids because while we knew our backgrounds didn’t allow for ‘depression’ thanks to backhand slaps that did quick brain resets, we are not raising our kids the way we were raised.


We were too exhausted playing on the streets to know anything about depression. But we are raising our kids indoors. They have become kids we allowed to play outdoors only at regulated times. They are kids we handed remote controls to at seven months, (we never even touched the TV until we were 6-10 years old). Our social media savvy kids can dismantle phones and other devices and put them back at age two. They are kids who know only a handful of people at close quarters growing up…



Our kids are not street wise. So, the survival mode and resilience we acquired growing up in the midst of several other people is missing for kids these days.


Which is why I paid attention when a friend asked me recently – how many kids from poor homes think of killing themselves?


How many have committed suicide because their parents couldn’t feed them or clothe them; or send them to decent schools? If you talk to kids in this category, all they want is to escape somewhere and “make it.”


They don’t want to die!


So, does that mean adults who also suffer depression are just privileged, I asked?


Or do you think the kids who are depressed due to one form of trauma or another are just making things up?


While my friend had no cogent answers, I have some.



ALSO READ: Can suicide ever be the only option? – Peju Akande




depression-peju akande


Mental health is a real health emergency. The symptoms are all very real! Many people need help! Depression is from the mind. Like many illnesses plaguing us today, it comes from the deep end. When a mind is twisted, there are neurons; chemicals released by the body that can cause an imbalance.


This is why the person is seen as one with a sick mind. It’s also why doctors recommend therapy and drugs.


So, what exactly am I suggesting?


We need to engage more with our children and young adults. When your kids, family, children tell you they are depressed, we shouldn’t think it’s because they are idle.


Their pain is real and their “sickness” is real.




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