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Depression, the leading cause of suicide

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By Timothy Akintola

Surge in suicide rate especially among young people over the last 12 months.

The rampant cases of depression have increased over time. Outlined as a mental illness or disorder which was characterized by different negative thoughts, have been confirmed to have a significant morbidity and mortality rates. Factually, the prevalence of depression in Nigeria has now been estimated at 3.1 percent. Globally, the estimate of people living with depression also witnessed an increase by 49.86 percent, from 142 million to 258 million in 2017. Notably, the Western sub-Saharan Africa also witnessed a 124.24 percent increase in the cases of depression.

Reports indicates that over the last 12 months, there has been a surge in the cases of suicide, mostly among young people. Frequently, many of these suicide cases continually flood Social Media spaces with no clear reportage to the authorities. In fact, Nigeria is said to have the highest rate of suicide and depression in Africa and sixth in the world. The current rate of suicide in Nigeria is 9.50 percent out of every 100,000 persons. According to suicide reports in Nigeria, the highest media rate are 0.27 per 100,000 people in the South West, 0.22 in the North Central, 0.21 in the South East and 0.19 in the South South.

With 17.3%, Nigeria becomes an epicenter for suicide globally.

More worrisome is the 2019 report of the World Health Organization (WHO) titled “Suicide in the World: Global Health Estimates”, which indicated that Nigeria had become one of the epicenters for suicide globally with a suicide rate of 17.3 per 100,000, higher than the global estimate of 10.5 percent per 100,000 and Africa with 12.0 percent per 100,000. Recent survey reported a mixed trend of failed and successful cases of suicide within the past 2 months. One of these incidents involved a Kebbi State student.

Also, another man was said to have taken his own life in Imo State. This man, Austin also known as Biggy allegedly killed himself at Umunwalo, off CGG road Irete, Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State. Reports stated that he hung himself to a fan in his room. Another reported case involved a final year student of the Federal Polytechnics, Oko. Per reports, it was gathered that this student committed suicide over a failed relationship.

Link between economic status and mental health, the catalyst for suicide.

In November, another lady was reported to have jumped off the third mainland bridge into a lagoon in Lagos State. On the recent prevalence of suicide in Nigeria, Dr. Okwudili Obayi, a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital who also doubles as the National Publicity Secretary of Psychiatrists in Nigeria in an interview, noted that the relationship between economic status and Mental Health which catalyzes suicide. He noted that as at the period when Nigeria experienced an economic Recession in 2015 and 2016, the suicide rate immensely skyrocketed.

Dr. Robsam Ohayi, a health expert also noted that things go wrong and people lose hope. As such, he asserted that depression was one major catalyst for suicide, a poignant reason why psychiatrists warn people who battle depression to present themselves for much needed evaluations and assistance. He further pointed out that though there are sets of people who kill themselves rapidly, most depressed people manifest symptoms over a period of time. Ohayi concluded that everything was as a result of loss of hope, where people lose themselves mentally.

Stigmatization stopping suicide victims from coming out.

He noted that the stigmatization attached to victims of suicide have worsened the situation. According to him, even families of suicide victims get stigmatized and prevented from upholding certain social and religious rites like marriage and title rights. Giving an instance of suicide victims not being buried, Ohayi pointed out that these social constructions have stopped suicide and depressed victims from coming out. He however stated that rather than stigmatizing, re-integrating these victims into the society with love was immensely important in enhancing their mental health.


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