Mental Health In Nigeria
His voice was not heard over the flowers he received that Fateful day! This is where the story ends.
Oladuduke had been found lying dead in his room. He received the news of his Visa rejection earlier that morning and lord knows, he was fed up with scuttling to-and-fro the Embassy and his house every Tuesday.
He had put so much faith in Mr Williams, who had promised heaven on earth if Oladuduke agreed to pay upfront, the N600,000 bribe to ‘speed things up’ at the Embassy. Desperate times called for desperate actions. Ola saved up for three months and ended up being swindled.
That evening, when he was discovered dead, all were surprised. Ola was not one to commit suicide, so, we all thought. His persona always lit up the room, not to mention his funny statements and hearty smiles, typically everyone’s favourite.
From the very moment he gained admission into a federal university in 2016, all he ever wanted was a degree, but the Nigerian educational system had other plans. When Mr. Williams swindled him in January 2022, his hopes of getting a better life outside Nigeria was already burnt out, merely embers left.
The commencement of yet another strike in February 2022 broke him. He gave up and sought for a means to end the pain and poverty he had endured.
Ola took to sniper to end his life. No one knew that Ola had been suffering silently from depression, a deadly mental illness. When we found out, it was too late. He was already six feet deep in mother earth. His voice could not be heard above the flowers placed on his grave.
This is just one of the numerous tragic suicidal events that have not been recorded over the past year in Nigeria. There is a popular stereotype in Nigeria, “Nigerians can survive anything”. That is very generic, yet according to the world population review, there is a record of at least one death every 11 seconds in Nigeria. People are dying because they have lost their means of survival. It is high time some of these stereotypes are exterminated!
Some causes of Suicide in Nigeria based on true stories include:
Depression and other Mental illnesses: Psychiatry.org states that “depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed.”
It is an illness, and it can be treated! Unfortunately, the ratio of Psychiatrist-patient in Nigeria is about 1:1,000,000 Nigerians. Ola did not have to die. He only needed but never got proper care.
Economic Situation in Nigeria: It is no news that the Nigerian economy is currently in crisis. This has increased the rate of poverty, emigration, and sadly, suicide in the country. Spiked price rates have led to spiked heart rates, loss of survival, and so on.
According to macrotrends, Nigeria had a record of 3.5 suicidal rate in 2019. This is 2023, that rate has not decreased. To avert an increase in suicidal rate in Nigeria, certain measures have to be taken: General elections are fast approaching; the mental health bill lies in the hands of the National Assembly and Presidency. Passing this into law, as an act would go a long way to aid mental health awareness and decrease suicidal rates in the country.
Section 327 of the Criminal Code Act provides, “any person who attempts to kill himself is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment”. This! Really? Someone is suffering and needs medical attention, imprisonment is the solution! Imprisoning such patients would only heighten their suffering. Building and commissioning mental health facilities would help in abating mental illnesses and reducing suicidal rates in the country.
Non-governmental organisations as well are needed to run awareness programs concerning mental illnesses and health, especially in the rural parts of Nigeria. Ignorance is known to be a deadly killer. Most people are not aware that they are suffering from some mental illnesses, therefore they die in silence. Moreover, in these parts of the world, speaking about depression and some mental illnesses like schizophrenia are seen as an anomaly. Creating awareness would establish confidence in said patients to speak up and seek help, medical attention would be administered promptly.
“Self-care is how you take your power back.”-Lalah. This is a call to all Nigerians to keenly take care of their mental health. It’s like your teeth, the moment it’s classified as trivial, and care isn’t taken, it begins to rot.