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•As world marked suicide prevention day on September 10, psychologists give tips on curbing suicidal thoughts, acts
By Victoria Amadi
Early this year, Nigerians were greeted with the tragic news of a medical doctor, Allwell Orji.
The man had jumped into the Lagos Lagoon from the Third Mainland Bridge. It took local divers and Lagos State emergency responders days to recover his body. His death was subsequently tagged a suicide.
The incident, according to reports, was just one among many suicide attempts and actual suicides that take place in Lagos and Nigeria as a whole.
Suicide, the action of taking one’s life intentionally, has now become a social phenomenon. The rate at which people commit suicide is quite appalling despite the fact that attempted suicide is a crime in Nigeria. Though challenging circumstances put people on the spot, many have asked the question: “Is suicide the ultimate solution?” The inability of people to answer this question with good reasons has led many astray.
According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), each year, over 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times that number make a suicide attempt. In the 2015 World Health Organisation (WHO) suicide ranking, Nigeria took the 30th position among 183 most suicide-prone nations of the world. This shows that suicidal acts exist in the country to certain extent. Nigeria also rates 10th among African countries with higher rates of suicide such as Togo (ranked 26th), Sierra Leone (11th), Angola (19th), Equatorial Guinea (7th), Burkina Faso (22nd) and Cote D’ivoire (5th). This proves that there is a great increase in the rate of suicide in the country.
In order to curtail incidences of suicide The World Suicide Prevention Day was set aside in 2003 to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. According to Wikipedia, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), collaborates with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health, to host the World Suicide Prevention Day.[
Reasons people conceive suicidal thoughts and most times commit suicide are vast and they vary from emotional, psychological, social and physical to mental circumstances or situations. A case is that of a young lady, Gloria Ajibo. She was promised marriage by her lover, Joseph. Joseph travelled abroad and promised to come back for their wedding after four years. Due to the constant communication, commitment and love Gloria had for Joseph, she waited faithfully and patiently, refusing all other suitors. But to her shock, Joseph called her few months to the stipulated four years and ended the relationship with a reason that he now had a family. Gloria on the other hand, having refused five suitors, was shattered. As a result of this emotional frustration, she killed herself.
The reporter also learnt about the case of a businessman, Jacob, who attempted suicide after his three shops and warehouse suddenly got burnt in the course of a fire outbreak. The unexpected loss of his goods and other personal belongings, and the thoughts of what to do, left him devastated, and the only thing that occurred to him, as the perfect solution was suicide.
Experts also believe that recession, which is the current status of the country, has posed a very difficult challenge to every Nigerian and could induce suicide. The struggle and hardship encountered by the masses while trying to cope with the deteriorating economy, many have noted, is enough to make them conceive suicidal thoughts. Inflation has also led to the deprivation of the basic necessities of life, notably food, clothing and shelter. People can no longer afford a simple and comfortable life and in the bid to survive, they are placed on the spot.
Notwithstanding, self-esteem on the other hand is also a contributing factor, experts have said. When a person has low self esteem, especially resulting from physical disability or diseases, it demoralizes the person, making him feel less important. Furthermore, total rejection from both family and friends could pose suicide as an option.
Each time people feel that a circumstance or situation have rendered them useless, helpless and hopeless, they unconsciously lose the value for life and no longer have a positive thought about anything concerning them. Hence, suicide comes into play.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the symptoms observed when a person has suicidal thoughts include; talking about wanting to die, talking about feeling empty, hopeless or having no reason to live, feeling unbearable pain, be it emotional or physical, acting anxious or agitated, using alcohol or drugs more often and withdrawing from family and friends, among others.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) proposed strategic actions for suicide prevention. These include; to raise awareness, engage key stakeholders like officials of the Ministry of Health and other health bodies, reduce access to means through the legal and judicial system, conduct surveillance and improve data quality, engage in media, mobilize the health system and train workers, change the attitudes and beliefs, conduct evaluation and research and also to develop and implement a comprehensive national suicide preventive strategy.
Experts have also been giving their opinions on suicide prevention. Miss Adaeze Nwokolo, a psychologist told Daily Sun that suicide prevention was something that should start from the very beginning when grooming a child.
She said: “Suicide is something that starts from the mind then to thoughts, before action. For a person to allow his mindset to conceive suicidal thoughts, there is a reason. The grooming of that person has a part to play. When you look at the background of such person, the parents that groomed him, the environment in which he grew, the various challenges and experiences he came across – perhaps a relative or friend had been a suicide victim – especially violent ones, and how they were resolved, you will find out that a child who never had proper guidance and protection from some ugly situations will definitely find it difficult to accept truth and fact later. Therefore, parents should contribute their time immensely towards giving their children the proper protection and upbringing they require because it will aid their decision making ability when they grow. They should not be exposed to the harsh and conflicting nature of the society especially, while they are little.”
To another expert, Mr. Femi Akande, a psychologist, self-love is the ultimate tool. He said: “Self love is a very strong tool for suicide prevention and also love of neighbour. The earlier we realize that we are one, the better. People should try to always look out for their neighbour or friend, show concern, especially when they are down and provide possible solution or help as much as they can because it will go a long way in preventing suicide.”