The spate of suicide in recent times in Nigeria is becoming unbecoming.
In this interview, Godwin Bebia, a mental and emotional health therapist, founder, Great counsellors Without Borders Initiative (NGO), espoused the root of emotional and mental crisis and what could be done to arrest this ugly trend.
What is your NGO doing to curb this scourge of depression and other mental and emotional illness?
We are embarking on extensive campaigns in some LGAs of Lagos state to sanitise and sensitise the people against suicide mission. By doing this, we are reminding the government what they ought to do to help these people.
Suicide is an end result of a whole lot of mental and emotional torture over some time. How do you intend to combat it from the scratch?
At every LGAs, we (our professional team) use our flyers/ leaflets, public address systems to draw people’s attention and talk to them one-on-one, through our intimate discussion, we shall identify the missing link/gaps in their life and know what exactly to tackle according to individual cases because some could be in the stages of anger, anxiety, frustration, restlessness, depression, etc before it metamorphose to suicide.
You said everyone needs mental and emotional health evaluation…
Yes! Including all government elected and appointed officers, because it’s only those who are mentally and emotionally sound that can come out of service especially public sector stainless. Those who tamper and squander what belongs to the public are emotionally and mentally ill and need evaluation. How can you divert what is meant for a dying person to your personal pocket? It shows the person is sick psychologically and emotionally and his conscience is dead. We heard how food & material items meant for IDPs was diverted, and other irresponsible acts done in Nigeria especially by public servants, so there’s no difference between the man who deprived any good thing from those suffering from mental and emotional retardation and himself, by the way, the Holy book says “Withhold NOT good from them to whom it’s due when it’s in the power of your hand to do it, and don’t say to your neighbor to go & come again tomorrow when you can do it now!
When you identify these gaps/missing links in different individuals, how do you intend to tackle it head-on?
That’s why we are calling on the government; already we are working with some humanitarians, philanthropists, charity organisations, and other humane persons to bring succour to these people who are contemplating suicide. For instance, the young man who burnt his NYSC certificate and took his life out of frustration could have been rescued if he had a counselor and any form of aid either in form of skill empowerment or other forms of help that would have engage his mind and body. Some person’s needs are: food, shelter, or Justice over a matter etc. so when they are met it would go a long way to mitigate their problems. Thus; those looking for where to spend money should invest in humanity and save life, because if this ugly trend continues, we are all in danger.
Can you specifically tell us the particular kind of mental and emotional challenges you are talking about
Unfortunately, we are not talking about madness as people will always think. We are talking about defects, which springs out of negative thoughts patterns and processes, which is passed on to the emotions and is being interpreted and leads to actions or inactions of suicide. Our target is to identify the symptomatic stages and dig deeper to ascertain the root causes then devised ways to fix it, God Willing.
How do you capture one who is contemplating suicide
Experience has shown that people tend to feign it. But suicide is preventable; they should not be afraid to discuss it. And people should help their neighbors; some people have resorted to drinking and indulge into other illicit acts when they are facing emotional and mental crisis, but these can only aggravate the issue. Whether sickness, disease or whatever, none is insurmountable. So our attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyper-reactive disorder (ADHD) strategy helps us to counsel, educate, evaluate and treat accordingly.
Would mere counseling solve mental and emotional crisis when depressed persons need food?
You know an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. First, we must make such persons know that suicide is not the best option, reaching that consensus with the affected persons, we move to the next level. As I said before, those who are willing, able & ready to help these depressed people can use different platforms to reach out to them to a reasonable time when they’re totally free from such evil thoughts.