Health experts and a cleric have called on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to address the current economic challenges in the country, to check the rate of suicide among Nigerians.
They spoke, in Lagos, on Tuesday, while reacting to the increasing cases of suicide in the country.
The World Health Organisation reports that every 40 seconds, one person commits suicide somewhere in the world, which tallies to 800,000 suicides annually.
The experts noted that in the last few months in Nigeria, cases of suicide that came to public knowledge had increased and stressed the need for increased government attention in reducing the problem.
A Consultant Psychiatrist at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Dr Stephen Oluwaniyi, identified poverty, high debt, deprivations, unemployment, job stress and insecurity as related to the current economic challenges in Nigeria.
Oluwaniyi said that the recession was affecting the mental health of some Nigerians, adding that it had also triggered high cases of depression, attempted suicide and other forms of mental illnesses.
He, however, advised members of the public not to be silent about their emotional and psychological problems but seek help from mental health experts.
A Clinical Psychologist, Mr Nathaniel Ayodeji of the Mental Health Foundation, said that suicide had a lot of underlying factors such as feelings of pain, loss, depression, broken relationships and hopelessness.
Ayodeji said that although suicide was regarded as a despicable act in the nation’s culture, many people had been forced into the act as a result of frustration, economic pressures and sense of hopelessness.
”This social problem is a threat to the future of our country and the government needs to act immediately by fixing the economy before the situation goes out of control, ” Ayodeji said.
Rev. Fr. Albert Ebosele of the Holy Family Catholic Church, Sokoto state, called on parents, families, relations, neighbours to watch out and observe others.
This he said was necessary to prevent sudden behavioural changes that might lead to suicide.
”The government, family, institution and individuals can save the situation. We should observe our environment and be watchful of people living around us.
”The government and orientation agencies should develop orientation campaigns and counseling in schools, markets, workplace, to advocate change and impart on peoples’ behaviour.
”People should look up to God and seek His help instead of ending their lives,’’ he said.
Also, Dr Bolanle Ajayi, a Psychiatrist at the Federal Neuro- Psychiatrist Hospital, Yaba, advised Nigerians to adopt proper income planning and management of their emotions.
The precautionary measures he said became necessary to prevent the high rate of mental illness which could be dur to the current economic recession in the country.
“No doubt about it, there is economic recession going on in our country and a lot of people are being affected.
`Even in our wards now, we see a lot of people coming down with depressive illness, suicide, depression, deliberate self-harm and by the time we look at the primary cause of these illnesses, it is actually this ongoing recession.
“Some people are psychologically affected, socially affected and emotionally affected.
”Some people have the ability to bring it out and get over it while some of us do not have such abilities.
“However, the general advice to the public in this economic recession is that, you do your beat, whatever you earn, you have to plan.
“ The era of I spend the money when the money comes is gone.
‘’The era we are now is, when the money comes you sit down on a roundtable in your house and do a proper plan on your money.
‘’This is because you don’t know when another one will come in.
“As individuals, we have to try and manage our emotions; we have to shift a bit. That means that I have to row with the economic recession so as not to affect my own emotional and mental state.
“We don’t want more people breaking down with psychiatric illness because of recession, ” Ajayi said.
One of the recent cases of suicide in Nigeria is that of one Dr Allwell Orji,who on Sunday,jumped into the Lagoon in Lagos (NAN)