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Suicide, depression and the need for increased mental health awareness in Nigeria

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A follow-up investigation on recent suicide deaths revealed that a lot of Nigerians have been battling with depression or other forms of mental health illness, leading to withdrawal from everyone and the strong feeling of ending it all.

The menace of suicide is becoming a worrying reality. In 2018 the country has the fifteenth highest suicide rate in the world (and seventh in Africa) according to the World Health Organization. As elsewhere, in Nigeria, there are many different factors that lead people to feel suicidal. These include mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. These are often combined with negative stresses caused by issues such as economic hardship, marital issues, poor academic performance, among others.

Hassanah a Lawyer, in Bauchi who expressed suicidal thoughts after her husband’s demise said “I lost my husband who confessed to me on his deathbed that he infected me with HIV,” I felt really bad afterwards and I wanted to take my own life as a way out.”, Hassanah regularly receives help from a mental health expert and she is leading a balanced life at the moment.

Health experts have identified depression and mental health as the real cause of suicide and not the consumption of pesticides. Studies have shown that willful self-poisoning has become an increasingly common response to emotional distress and depression especially among young adults, calling on the Federal Government to increase level of education on mental health awareness, set up toll free lines and counselling centres where those battling depression and other mental health crisis can call or visit for help.

Medical Health Advocates and a growing number of public analysts have argued that the recent call to curb the rising misuse of pesticides for suicide and restricting the easy access to such products, though in order does not remove the need to focus more on proper education and enlightenment program on Mental health.

They opined that people will find other means of putting themselves in serious harm’s way by ingesting other poisonous substances. More
recently we have heard reports of people jumping off the Lagoon, some hang themselves while others stab themselves, all in a bid for an easy escape from reality.

Public enlightenment on Mental Health and its attendant symptoms as well as adequate provision of intervention centres and personnel nationwide is the way to go.

Dichlorvos has been in use in Nigeria for over 5 decades as a crop pest management tool that has tremendously contributed to the increased yield and quality of crops until the current wave of misuse against the producers’ recommendation.

A restriction of this product, especially in small packs, will certainly deny the millions of small farmers the opportunity to use the products and this can have a serious impact on food production in Nigeria.


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