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Group involves schools in suicide prevention awareness initiative, calls for action

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Globally, there has been a worrying concern on the rise in youth suicide and this is a very serious issue in Nigeria.

In support of suicide awareness and prevention, Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN), a not-for-profit organisation, with presence in over 34 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has involved secondary school students in the campaign.

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At the 2021 virtual conference on “The Youth Connecting and Strengthening Future Mental Wellbeing,” National Coordinator and Consultant Psychiatrist, SURPIN, Dr. Raphael Ogbolu, said the reason for the conference is to create awareness on suicide prevention.

“The event will feature a powerful keynote lecture from a versatile mental health specialist and psychiatrist in line with the new normal imposed by COVID-19.”

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According to the expert, mental health prevention and intervention is crucial in the fight against suicide. “In this unprecedented times, students go through so much change, mentally and physically. This is why it is very imperative to enlighten them so that it will not result to crisis. Our hotlines are available to ensure that these young individuals discuss suicide prevention and to seek help on time. SURPIN hope to save more lives,” he said.

The psychiatrist informed that SURPIN is the flag-bearer when it comes to suicide prevention in Nigeria. “This year, SURPIN is focused on the young people, and the highlight of the conference, will be the finale of a national secondary schools’ debate where six finalist schools will debate the topic: ‘Can the mental health bill reduce suicide among young Nigerians?’.

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He added that there was a first round of debates where secondary schools across the country sent in videos of students debating on the topic, “COVID-19 has increased suicide among young Nigerians.

Ogbolu said that the entries were invited from the six geopolitical zones of the country and Lagos as a zone, which is how SURPIN is zonally structured. “Experts screened the first round entries and one school emerged from each of the zones, except the North-East, which did not send any entries.

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“The six finalists’ debate entries will be played live on the day of the conference and based on scores from a panel of judges and online votes, 1st, 2nd and 3rd places will be awarded with prize monies (250,000, 150,000 and 100,000 respectively).

The event will hold virtually and physically on Saturday, September 11, at the Old Great Hall, College of Medicine University of Lagos, Surulere, while registration details to join virtually are available on the website .

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Ogbolu, who said that the event will be a very informative one, noted that through their hotlines and ingenious programmes, SURPIN hope to save more lives.

He assured that they will not relent in creating more awareness on suicide and continue to engage the students, parents, religious bodies, schools and other stakeholders.

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