• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Breaking the cycle of suicide in Nigeria

Breaking the cycle of suicide in Nigeria

Early in April this year, a Deputy Commissioner of Police serving with the Force Criminal and Investigation Department, Alagbon, Lagos State, Gbolahan Oyedemi, reportedly took his own life at his private house in his hometown, Ogbomoso, Oyo State. This shook the country. Many wondered why a seemingly successful man near the peak of his career would end his own life suddenly.

Even more confusing is that Oyedemi was the aide de camp to the late former governor of the state, Adebayo Alao-Akala, during his 11-month tenure in 2006.

Also, a 32-year-old female banker, Amarachi Ugochukwu, a marketing employee of a bank in Ikorodu, Lagos, committed suicide due to “economic hardship.”

Read also: Lagos Deputy Commissioner of Police commits suicide in hometown

As disturbing as this seems, suicide in Nigeria has become a worrying trend among both the young and old.

In recent years, Nigeria has witnessed a concerning trend of increasing suicide deaths, particularly among young people, but suicide is not the answer.

The reasons behind this tragic phenomenon are complex and multifaceted, often rooted in societal pressures, economic challenges, mental health issues, and lack of support systems.

For instance, in 2019, a university student in Lagos reportedly died by suicide after struggling with academic pressure and depression. The incident sparked discussions about mental health awareness on college campuses.

In 2020, a prominent Nigerian musician was tragically found dead by suicide at his home in Lagos. His death brought attention to the mental health challenges faced by celebrities and public figures.

Also in 2020, a young woman in Abuja died by suicide after posting a series of distressing messages on social media. Her death highlighted the importance of providing support for individuals experiencing mental health crises.

In 2021, a teenager in Kano reportedly took her own life after facing bullying and harassment at school. Her death prompted calls for action to address bullying and mental health issues among students.

These examples underscore the urgent need for increased awareness, support, and resources to address mental health challenges and prevent suicide in Nigeria.

According to the World Health Organisation, Nigeria has one of the highest rates of suicide in Africa, with young people accounting for a significant portion of suicide deaths.

But, one of the most effective ways to address the issue of suicide is by promoting mental health awareness and education. Many people in Nigeria still perceive mental health problems as taboo or a sign of weakness, leading to stigma and discrimination against those who seek help. By raising awareness about mental health issues and debunking myths and misconceptions, society can create a more supportive and understanding environment for individuals struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

Another crucial aspect of addressing the recurrent rate of suicides is improving access to mental health services across Nigeria. Currently, mental health services are often inaccessible or unavailable, particularly in rural areas. This leaves many individuals without access to the care and support they desperately need.

Governments, healthcare providers, and non-governmental organisations could work together to expand mental health services, train healthcare professionals, and integrate mental health into primary healthcare systems.

Building strong support networks is essential for individuals experiencing mental health challenges and suicidal thoughts. This includes providing avenues for individuals to seek help, such as helplines, support groups, and online forums. It also involves educating friends, family members, and communities on how to recognise the signs of depression, and suicidal behaviour and how to offer support and encouragement to those in need.

Additionally, promoting self-care practices such as exercise, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques can help individuals better manage their mental health and reduce the risk of suicidal behaviour.

Addressing the recurrent rate of suicidal deaths in Nigeria requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach that addresses the root causes of suicide and provides effective solutions and support for individuals in crisis.

By promoting mental health awareness, increasing access to mental health services, creating support networks, and empowering individuals, citizens can work together to prevent suicide and create a healthier system for all Nigerians.