SURPIN harps on collaboration on suicide prevention
Calls for passage of Mental Health Bill
The Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN) and psychiatrists in Nigeria have called for collaboration on suicide prevention and the passage of Mental Health Bill.
The call was made at a conference organised by SURPIN with the theme “Youth – Connecting and Strengthening Future Mental Wellbeing” at the Old Great Hall, College of Medicine, Idi-Araba, Lagos and virtually via Zoom, in keeping with COVID-19 restrictions, to commemorate the World Suicide Prevention day.
President, Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), Dr. Taiwo L. Sheikh, said the Mental Health Bill will reduce suicide among young Nigerians, adding that the APN has been a longstanding partner of SURPIN.
The Chair, SURPIN National Planning Committee, Dr. Funmi Akinola, a consultant and senior psychiatrist at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, admonished all to take the fight to prevent suicide down to their various localities, organisations and domains because it is a lot of work that requires all hands to be on deck.
Also, the Psychiatry Department, University of Jos and Faculty of Psychiatry chair of the West African College of Physicians, Prof. Taiwo James Obindo, emphasised the importance of recognising warning signs and seeking appropriate professional help, as well as the need to continue to fight the stigmatisation of mentally ill persons.
Consultant Psychiatrist and National Coordinator, SURPIN, Dr. Raphael Ogbolu, stated that due to the impact of COVID-19, it was not surprising that 2020 accounted for 41.1perbeng of SURPIN’s hotline calls; the highest in one year since inception in 2017; and that it is of concern that those aged under 30 years accounted for 48.3% of the crisis calls.
This is why this year SURPIN decided to focus on young people and it informed the theme of the conference, the panel discussion and the secondary school debates.
He informed that SURPIN decided to engage secondary schools in a debate competition, rather than wait until they are older before involving them in the discussions around their future mental wellbeing.
The other highlight of the event was the final of the SURPIN National secondary schools’ debate featuring five schools. The debate had gone through a first phase resulting in the shortlisting of the finalists. The schools debated for or against the topic: The Mental Health Bill will reduce suicide among young Nigerians. Hh.
The schools had been receiving votes online on the SURPIN website, building up to the final and their points from this was added to the scores from judges that included, Prof. Owoidoho Udofia, professor of psychiatry and immediate past college registrar of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, Prof. Chinedum Babalola, The Vice-Chancellor, Chrisland University, Abeokuta, The Kwara state Commissioner for Education (previously mentioned), and Dr. Denise Ejoh, seasoned educator and MD NFCR Educational Consultants Ltd. Their debate videos were for the audience, and it was a wonderful performance by all the students, drawing huge applause from the audience.
The final positions were Grange School Ikeja (first position), Mea Mater Elizabeth High School, Enugu, South-East Zone (second position), University of Ilorin Secondary School, Ilorin, North-Central (third position), Federal Girls Government College, Ikom, Awa Ibom, South-South (fourth position) and Danbo International School, Kaduna, North-West (fifth position).
The various state commissioners informed the audience about the steps they were taking towards improving the wellbeing of children.
Ogbolu reminded all of the importance of collaboration and supporting suicide prevention, and commended the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, where it all started.