Against the background of rising suicide being reported in the country recently, medical experts have affirmed that suicide is on the increase, putting the blame largely on depression which is aggravated by economic recession and other human adversity.
According to a Consultant Psychiatrist/Psychologist and Medical Director of the Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital, FNPH, Yaba, Dr. Richard Adebayo, who made this known in Lagos, said 80 per cent of people who committed suicide had depression. Depression is a mental health disorder. Specifically, it is a mood disorder characterised by persistently low mood in which there is a feeling of sadness and loss of interest.
It will be recalled that of Dr. Alwell Oji, a medical doctor who worked with Mt. Sinai Hospital in Papa Ajao Mushin Lagos committed suicide by jumping into the Lagos lagoon penultimate Sunday and Taiwo Titilayo Momoh also attempted jumping into Lagos lagoon but was later rescued by policemen attached to the Lagos State Police Command.
While raising the alarm that suicide is on the increase in the country, Adebayo similarly admitted that depression is becoming more rampant.
He said, “A lot of people are depressed; millions of Nigerians are depressed,” adding, “depression is on the increase; and suicide is on the increase.”
The 2016 Annual Report of the Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital Yaba, shows that the facility recorded 111 per cent increase in patient attendants, rising from 25,267 attendance in 2015 to 53,287 in 2016. Similarly, the psychiatric hospital recorded 59 per cent increase in the number of new patients that sought care there in 2016, rising from 2,531 in 2015 to 4,031 in 2016.
Adebayo lamented that suicide is under-reported because of the stigma associated with it. He said: “A lot of people have committed suicide but their families want to suppress it due to the stigma.”
While explaining why the country is recording some suicide cases, the medical director of the FNPH, said Economic problems occasioned by the current recession and other human adversity including loss of relations, tragic incidents and calamities could reinforce people who have underlying depression and these could trigger suicide ideations and even selfharm.
“Losing a job or being bereaved could aggravate underlying depression and an affected individual may just feel that there is no way out again and may resort to taking his life,” said Adebayo.
According to the World Health Organisation, WHO, approximately one million people die by suicide each year and for everyone who dies by suicide about 20 more have attempted suicide. A Consultant Psychologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Dr. Raphael Ogbolu, said based on research, “Over a five-year study period 7.2 of cases referred to psychiatry consultation-liaison services in LUTH were cases related to suicide.
“It has been reported that during their lifetime, about 3.0 per cent of Nigerians have had thoughts about ending their lives, 1.0 per cent will plan on how to kill themselves and just under 1.0 per cent will carry out an attempt to kill themselves,” according to the study.
Similarly, a Consultant Psychiatrist in LUTH, Dr. Yewande Oshodi, on Thursday, affirmed that suicide is common in Nigeria; it is not a new thing.
“We in the Department of Psychiatry can confirm that almost all referrals to our department were based on suicide attempts. “Every month, we have at least, four cases of attempted suicide and it has been like that for years. So, these are not new things.”
She described the case of the Dr. Alwell Oji as a sensational event that brought suicide to the attention of the public.
“We sit with a big problem and sometimes people do not know where to go to. Besides, the stigma of phychiatric problems make it difficult for people to come out and speak about it.
“It’s not just adults that attempt suicide, adolescents too do,” she said adding, “last week, I still saw a young girl who had taken an overdose of tramadol right under her mother’s nose.”
To tackle rising suicide with a view to preventing deaths arising from it, the medical director of the Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital Yaba urged the three tiers of government to decentralise mental health care and take services to all primary health centres, PHCs.
“A lot of people do not want to access mental health care from psychiatric hospitals because of the stigma associated with it.