By Josephine Amoako

The fast-paced advancement of technology and amazing feature updates on various social media platforms today are helping individuals and organizations communicate more effectively with their target audiences. Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, Periscope, Snapchat, WhatsApp and several others are going all out to remove any sense of distance we might feel from others. There is no better time to be alive than today. But sadly, this technological blessing seems to be a double-edged sword and it sends shock waves across the world whenever news breaks of people misusing social media in a dangerous way.

There have been some recent reports of teen girls who streamed live their suicides on Facebook. This news broke my heart. I wondered what on earth could be bothering these youngsters so much that they took their own lives. Some of them take drastic measures after being victims of bullying for so long that they lose the urge to love themselves enough to resist. Some others do so after compromising photos or videos of themselves surface online.

It must feel terrible to be the subject of the world’s ridicule and judgment for seemingly moral impropriety, and it might feel like it will never go away. One would wish that the ground should literally open and swallow them up to escape it all and, sometimes, it ends with suicide.

I was deeply saddened by the news of another suicide of a first-year university student in Ghana. Initially, people speculated that she had some academic challenges that she couldn’t overcome, but we later found out that the reason she took her life was because of a broken heart.  Such news is always a shock to the people who know the victims personally, saying they had no idea something was bothering them. This begs the question, do we know what’s going through the minds of the people we hang out with? Can we tell if they are troubled by something? Do they trust us enough to open up to us about their personal issues?

Emotional health is as vital as the physical; yet we hardly focus on it. When we hear such sad stories and find out why suicide victims chose that path, it is even more baffling to discover ‘light-weighted’ reasons like heartbreak due to a breakup or an unfaithful partner. One would say it happens all the time. Why would a woman end her life because of one man, when there are millions of them? The thing is, we all deal with issues differently and there’s a limit to how much one can take.

Some can take bullying as an ‘unfortunate normal’ and endure it till it passes; others can’t. Some see a bad break as a phase, others see it as the end of the world. We are all different, but we don’t have to deal with our issues alone. Sometimes, solitude helps; other times we need the company and counsel of others to preserve our sanity.

It’s okay to admit something is bothering you and you need help. It doesn’t make you weak, it only means you’re human. Depression and mental stress are real and it is a big deal, so don’t underestimate how low they can pull you into being a shadow of yourself. No matter how reserved you are or how mistrustful you are of others, there must be one person you can open up to. Sharing your problems helps.

Let’s strive to be one another’s keeper, shall we? Let’s avail ourselves to listen to our colleagues when they speak. Life isn’t all about us, you know. Don’t put up a wall such that they can’t approach you. You may not be able to offer a ready solution but your presence alone would mean a lot.

So let’s do our best to save lives by paying attention to the people around us. I’m here to listen to you, pray with you and offer whatever advice I have if you’re in need of it. Don’t hesitate to shoot me an email, okay?