By Emeka Nwokocha
Africa Project Against Suicide (APAS), in collaboration with Development Initiative for Community Impact (DICI), has called for collective efforts to curb rising rate of suicide in Nigeria, describing the development as worrisome.
The Non Profit organisations made the call on Saturday 10, September, 2022, as they joined the rest of the world in commemorating this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) with impactful public enlightenment programme to dissuade people from committing suicide.
The programme was held at DICI resource centre with a motley crowd of youths drawn from various communities of Delta state in attendance.
Speaking, the facilitator of the event and secretary of APAS, Dr. Otega Okinono lamented increasing incidents of suicide in Nigeria, mostly among youths, saying that suicide is a serious public health issue and one of the biggest contributors to global deaths, adding that over 800,000 people die from suicide every single year with one death occurring every 40 seconds.
She further stated: “The World Health Organisation has revealed that Nigeria has the highest suicidal rate among African countries in 2016 with over 17,000 lives lost to suicide, and the sixth highest globally.
“The World Suicide Prevention Day was established in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO), and September 10 every year was set aside to commemorate the remarkable day across the world, focusing attention on how to reduce stigma and raise awareness among organizations, government, and the public that suicide can be prevented.”
She continued: “The theme of this year’s WSPD, ‘Creating Hope Through Action,’ aims to inspire confidence and hope in people with a strong reminder that there is alternative to suicide.”
She explained, “by creating hope through action, we can signal to people experiencing suicidal thoughts that there is hope and that we care and want to support them get out of their predicament.”
Fielding questions from journalists, Dr. Okinono who doubles as lecturer at University of Delta, Agbor said, “this enlightenment programme is not a one-off show, we have just had this session with youths, we shall launch other programmes in the coming months for al ages to take our message to the grassroots.”
Continuing, she passionately urged youths to fix their minds on innovative ideas that would add value to their lives, stressing that, “life is beautiful; life is worth living; suicide is not an option to whatever challenges you may be going through.”
Acknowledging the challenges confronting humanity every day, Dr. Okinono said, “human problems are inevitable, but they are surmountable with the application of the right principles to managing the challenges in our trouble prone world.”
She passionately called on youths to shun any act that causes depression, which according to her, is a strong trigger of suicide.
In her presentation, Ms. Emira Edjemre (CEO, Well of Wisdom) identified potent causes of suicide in Nigeria, saying, “Nigerians commit suicide due to several factors including family suicide history, financial challenges, psychiatric illness leading to depression, failure in examinations, physical disability, unbearable emotional or physical pain, sexual harassment and molestation, loss of loved ones, loss of employment, loss of self-esteem, difficulties in relationships and substance abuse.”
Continuing, she charged youths to protect their self-esteem and discard feelings that tend to undermine their relevance in society. She emphasized importance of early detection of signs of depression, saying it would help in preventing suicide.
“Pay more attention to the behavioural patterns of family members and loved ones to be able to detect early signs of depression with a view to seeking professional help,” she stated.
In another round of presentation, Mrs. Teshoma Eza, Mental Health Advocate, decried the poor economic and financial conditions in Nigeria, stating that they are major trigger of depression that often causes suicide.
She counselled youths to be hopeful and creative with their eyes set on goals, saying, “most times when things are difficult, people think it’s finished, but that’s not true because there is hope around you.”
She said, “always be conscious of the early signs of suicide such as isolation, and sudden change of behaviour.
Eza admonished people to desist from body shaming, public humiliation, drug abuse, and alcoholism, saying they are triggers of suicide.
Continuing, she advised youths to be confident in themselves, saying, “don’t let anybody shout you down, have total control of yourself and project your beautiful, be proud of yourself, stay away from anything that will cause depression and endeavour to protect your mental health.”
“Incentives to cope with life stresses and early identification of people at risk of suicide, managing and following-up people at risk of suicide are preventable mechanisms,” she stated.
Speaking, the representative of DICI, Mr. Leo Jehian, described the programme as a huge success, stating that subsequent enlightenment programmes would come on stream to ensure the campaign against suicide is up scaled, so it could make a huge impact in curbing rising suicide rates in the society.