Group seeks holistic approach toward addressing determinants of suicide

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By Lilian U. Okoro

The Nigeria Suicide Prevention Advocacy Group has called for a holistic approach to prevent and address the determinants of suicide in the country.

Dr Oluwatosin Adekeye, Deputy Director, Clinical Psychology, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, made the call at the 2nd Virtual Meeting of the Group on the topic: “Determinants of Suicidality in Nigeria”.

Adekeye called for the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders to addressing the determinants of suicide, saying that effective prevention and intervention of requires a multilayered approach.

He said that the increasing rate of suicide and its corresponding devastating effects made it pertinent for stakeholders including governments, families, policy-makers and organisations to collectively look at the issue with a view to addressing it.

According to him, suicide is a behaviour motivated by the desire to escape unbearable psychological pain.

He identified psychological risk factors of suicide to include bulling, social rejection, quality of life and lack of care, saying that sadness, anxiety and hopelessness were the key causative factors of suicide in Nigeria.

Adekeye, who called for increased advocacy on suicide, provision of support through prevention and treatment, emphasised the need for decriminalisation of suicide to pave the way for effective suicide prevention and control in Nigeria.

“Effective prevention and intervention require a multilayered approach that encompasses community engagement, healthcare service enhancement and robust policy support.

“Hence, the need for social support system and education of the populace on the psychological determinants of suicide and how to cope with them,” he said.

Speaking, a Consultant Psychiatrist, Prof. Jibril Abdulmalik, identified gender as a biological risk factor for suicide, saying there was a strong genetic history in connection to suicide.

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Abdulmalik, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, UCH Ibadan, said that men were at higher risk of suicide than women.

According to him, men tend to commit suicide four times more than women.

Alhaji Abubakar Bichi, a Social Worker at the Federal Medical Centre, Kano, said that poverty and unemployment had become the major economic factors affecting suicidality in Nigeria.

Bichi, also the National President, Association of Medical Social Workers of Nigerian (AMSWON), said the burden of economic pressures such as debt, inability to meet daily needs and uncertainty about future could lead to increased level of stress and anxiety, leading to suicide.

He decried that mental health services were barely available in the rural communities, as the country only have six Federal Psychiatric hospitals basically located at the urban cities.

“Mental Health, though, might be a long term health condition, is treatable that an individual with the condition can live a normal life.

“Unfortunately, in many Nigeria communities, mental health issues are often stigmatised and perceived as sign of weakness.

“The social and economic determinants are the major causative factors of mental health conditions and suicide in Nigeria, hence the need to address them.

“The Government should implement mental health policies and laws and provide the enabling environment for the citizens to be meaningfully engaged.

“Let there be more job opportunities so that people will gainfully be employed and the basic amenities be made available,” Bichi said.

Prof. Ibrahim Wakawa, Medical Director, Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital Maiduguri, said there was need for a public pronouncement by the Federal Ministry of Health that suicide has became a public health pandemic.

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According to him, there is need for proper control and monitoring of the means of access to suicide like snipper, by the relevant authorities.

He noted that poverty alleviation needed to be really considered a priority if significant achievement would be made in prevention of suicide in Nigeria.

Earlier, Prof. Taiwo Sheikh, the Group Coordinator, said that mental health, including determinants of suicide, affect millions of people across Africa, adding that stigma and cultural misconceptions often compound these issues.

In his welcome speech, Sheikh, also a consultant psychiatrist, said that insufficient public spending on mental health and suicide prevention was a major barrier to providing assistance to those in need.

According to him, effective suicide prevention can only take place through a whole-of-society approach that involves the government, civil society organisations and community leaders.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Vivian Ihechu

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