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Monday, February 16, 2015

Suicide Amidst Smiling Nigerian Faces…

The first comprehensive survey by the United Na­tion (UN) on national mood has rated Nigerians as the 100th happiest people in the world. The report comes two years after Ni­geria was rated in a 2010 Gallup global poll as having the “happi­est people on earth”. The poll of 64,000 people from 53 countries around the world found Nige­rians to be the most optimistic in the world in their outlook for 2011. It also found that the most optimistic people mostly live in low income countries, such as Ni­geria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Peru and Bangladesh.

However, recent happenings have shown that suicide is be­coming a common way among Nigerians as a way of avoiding the suffering in our land.
On Thursday, January 29, a well-dressed man who was driv­ing in a cream coloured Toyota Sienna space bus parked on third mainland bridge, Lagos, walked calmly to the rails and Jumped into the lagoon thereby commit­ting suicide.

A Psychologist, Mr Okey-Mar­tins said, “I never really think Nigerians are generally a happy
people. What seems correct is that we tend to have a high resil­ient nature. It is that motivation to survive and hope to thrive; that come-back spirit of most Ni­gerians that most people confuse with happiness.
“We overcompensate for our inner worries and conflicts by putting up a happy attitude ex­pressed in social activities like parties, drinking, flirting, ac­cumulation of money and more money. Many Nigerians includ­ing young children will fit cri­teria for mental health issues if tested or diagnosed. Happiness can be defined.”

Suicide is the act of intention­ally causing one’s own death by hanging, pesticide poisoning, and firearms. 
A consultant psychiatrist, Dr Maymunah Kadiri say, “Al­though, we were once made to believe that suicide was not com­mon among the black men, it is amazing that it has rather be­come a resounding incident in Nigeria, as many people, young and old, male and female, liter­ate and illiterate now derive joy in terminating their own lives. Most especially the youth.” According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year and there are many more who attempt suicide. Hence, many millions of people are af­fected or experience suicide be­reavement every year. Suicide oc­curs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds glob­ally in 2012.

Rates are higher in men than in women, with males three to four times more likely to kill themselves than females. There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year. Non-fatal suicide at­tempts may lead to injury and long term disabilities. Attempts are more common in young peo­ple and females. “With this information, we have had quite a number of Ni­gerian Youths taking their lives for various reasons, sometimes, the reason is not known but the most frequently cited risk factors for suicide are mental disorders, e.g. depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder, alcohol or substance abuse or dependence etc.,” said Kadiri. Okey also said, not everyone can cope with negative life is­sues: disappointments, repeated failures, loss of loved ones, finan­cial loss, poverty, sickness and bad medical conditions. “With the daily depletion of the status of economy, security, health, education; added to the mind crunching levels of poverty and worsened by the absence of professional psychological and behavioural health assistance, it is not unlikely that suicide rates in Nigeria will be on the rise,” he said. The mental health expert said, the above reasons are traumatic life events that can precipitate a mental health illness. “An ex­ample is depression, and this is the single most common mental health disorder that is linked to suicide.”

Against the general belief that suicide results from mental ill­ness, not all people who commit suicide are mentally ill, Kadiri added.Risk factors for suicide are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take her or his life. Suicide risk tends to be highest when someone has several risk factors at the same time, the psy­chiatrist said.
According to her, suicide is not the best way of dealing with per­sonal loss or the way to manage any situation. “Suicide has to stop and this involves joint campaign by every­one. There is need to develop re­silience (the ability to cope with adverse life events and adjust to them), a sense of personal self-worth and self-confidence, effec­tive coping and problem-solving skills, and adaptive help-seeking behaviour because they are often considered to be protective fac­tors against the development of suicidal behaviours.”

Efforts to prevent suicide in­clude limiting access to method of suicide such as firearms and poisons, treating mental illness and drug misuse, and improving economic circumstances.
In his view, Okey said, as edu­cated as Europeans and Ameri­cans are; as organised as their systems are; with all the welfare and support structures their cit­izens enjoy, they still make provisions to ensure that citizens have access to Psychologists and counselling professionals in every hospital, school and other social communities. The psychologist said, every legislator, judge, government or public executive must have close access to behavioural health experts who are profes­sionally trained. “If you observe the way most Nigerians behave, how we shout at people; how we curse and drive; how we pass exami­nations, how we get promotion at work; how we treat domestic workers or subordinates; how we evaluate leaders and accept responsibilities; if you observe the do or die quest and craving for money; the things we even­tually spend money on; you don’t need more than simple common sense to know, we need psychological rebirth.
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