Tonto Dikeh is not new to controversies. From the perennial dust over her relationships to her usually contentious remarks on social media, the movie star has etched her name as one of the most discussed prominent figures in the Nigerian entertainment landscape in recent times.
For the actress and entrepreneur, controversy has become a way of life — and it’s something she enjoys doing.
“I am probably one of the most controversial persons on earth, proudly,” Dikeh said at a recent Tedx.
The film star is, however, in the public eye after her contentious claim that she once “took a bottle of sniper and drank it all” while battling suicidal thoughts.
Her claim had come at the Tedx which focused on how people can leverage controversy for their growth.
In her remark, Dikeh had said in the past, she allowed negative criticisms to get to her that she decided to “end it all” one day.
“One day, I was in my room and was so tired. God knows that I was so tired that I took a bottle of sniper and drank it all,” she had said.
“I just wanted it to be over. It was too much for me that I couldn’t control it. In my mind, I knew who I am but you’re telling me I’m someone else.
“My life was in a fix. I took the poison and kept waiting for what would happen….in that instance Jesus spoke to me ‘I gave you a second chance.”
Her claim has continued to elicit intense debate on social media, with a number of users registering their doubts and disbelief.
“How can you drink a bottle of sniper and survive without any injury?” many users asked.
The users’ opinions might not be unconnected to the fact that the sniper is one of the most deadly insecticides in the Nigerian market.
SNIPER: CHEMICAL COMPOSITION
Sniper belongs to the DDVP chemical family, (dichlorvos) 2, 2-dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate compound.
It is an organophosphate widely used as an insecticide to control household pests in public health and protect stored products from insects.
The product, marketed by Swiss-Nigerian Chemical Company, is one of the most sought-after insecticides among Nigerians due to its perceived effectiveness.
But while the product is specifically made for insecticides and pesticides, it has raised concerns on numerous occasions due to its intake among people attempting to commit suicide.
According to a study, “pesticide self-poisoning account for at least one-in-seven suicides globally.”
In 2019, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) had prohibited the open sale of sniper and other products containing DDVP due to its increased use for suicide.
The agency had also banned the production of smaller packs of the product over its affordability and ease of access for suicide victims.
IS THERE ANY CHANCE OF SURVIVING AFTER TAKING SNIPER?
Since Dikeh’s claim surfaced, many Nigerians have continued to wonder how she survived after drinking a bottle of sniper despite the deadly nature of the product.
Speaking with TheCable Lifestyle, Joseph Anikwe, a doctor and applied entomologist, at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), dismissed the possibility of one surviving after taking a bottle of sniper as the actress claimed.
“Nobody can drink a bottle of sniper and not die. It’s not possible, that’s a lie. Sniper is a poisonous insecticide. It contains acid ingredients and it is also toxic. If anyone injects it into the body, it kills eventually,” he added.
Corroborating Anikwe, Bunmi Owotade, a medical doctor, said the survival rate for insecticide poisoning is usually low, adding that most of those affected usually die in the process.
Owotade, however, disclosed that the sniper — when taken — kills gradually, adding that it starts by destroying vital organs immediately it comes in contact with the body.
“People have this erroneous notion that if you drink Sniper you will die instantly. It is not true. Insecticide or poison-related deaths usually take about 20 minutes to one hour or even more. Once the substance is consumed, it begins to burn the person slowly from the inside,” Owotade said, according to Nigerian Tribune.
“You find the victims writhing in pain, groaning in agony because the harsh chemicals are slowly but surely burning up and perforating vital organs. You find victims with blackened mouths and throats.
“The chemicals burn a path through the insides. Sometimes victims foam or bleed through the mouth or any other open surface, depending on the amount of insecticide they took. The effect is usually immediate death or if they are rushed to the hospital on time, we try to flush their system.
“But the damage is usually fatal as sometimes victim spend months on feeding tubes and antibiotics. Survival rate for insecticide poisoning is usually low, like, one in 10.”
WHAT STEPS SHOULD BE TAKEN AFTER INTAKE OF SNIPER?
While chances of surviving sniper intake are believed to be very low, there are first aid measures expected to be taken when such happens.
If swallowed, victims are expected to take proactive steps such as calling a poison control centre or doctor and avoid induce vomiting unless when instructed.
The affected person must also avoid ingestion of any liquid.
“This product (sniper) is a pyrethroid. If large amounts have been ingested, the stomach and intestines should be evacuated. Treatment is systematic and supportive,” a treatment guide for people who consume sniper read.
“Digestible fats, oils or alcohol may increase absorption and so should be avoided. Contains petroleum distillate – vomiting may cause aspiration pneumonia.
“This product contains light aromatic hydrocarbons that can produce a severe pneumonitis or fatal pulmonary edema if aspirated during vomiting.”
Dikeh may have done well by inspiring her audience with her story.
What she failed to do, however, is helping the public connect with her experience by explaining how she survived after taking the bottle of sniper — if indeed she did.
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