• Group raises concern over rising suicide cases
• Experts call for improved mental healthcare to stem suicide rate
A 27-year-old man, Joseph Ajari, has committed suicide in a border village between Plateau and Kaduna states.
Eyewitnesses told The Guardian that since the man, said to hail from Okitipupa in Ondo State, came to the area six years ago, he had not been relating with anybody, leading people to speculate that he may have belonged to the spirit world or had died previously and reincarnated there.
One of the eyewitnesses said the deceased had no wife and hated seeing ladies. “He does not mix with people and does not socialise. He tries as much as possible not to come in contact with people. He goes on errands by himself. He does not send children. He cooks for himself, fetches water for himself. In fact, he does everything for himself.
“As a small village settlement of about 20 huts, Ajari will beat a retreat if he is going to meet face to face with somebody coming towards his direction, a behavior strange to us in this village where everybody looks after each other.
“Because of his strange behaviour, we thought he does not belong to this world. We only knew where he came from just immediately he first came here and that was what he told us. After that, he had been avoiding us, entertaining fear that we could ask him further questions,” he said, adding that some elders entered his house to bring out the decomposed body for burial in the absence of a police post in the village.
He revealed that they braved the odds to enter his hut when unusual flies started gathering and hovering over his residence, adding that when they entered, they saw his near rotten body dangling on a locally made rope tied to the roof of his hut.
“We did not know actually when he died but for the flies, and the flies cannot gather like that except, possibly after four days of his death.”
The Consultant Psychiatrist and chairperson at Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) Suicide Response Team, Dr Hannah Gyang, when contacted, said about 90 per cent of cases of suicide in the country could be traced to mental disorder due to depression.
Gyang said that some of the risk factors for committing suicide include poor interpersonal skills, negative processes, family or community violence, violence, physical and sexual abuse as well as bereavement, among others.
She explained further that people within the age of 15 and 44 years are more at risk of suicide. She pointed out that suicide can be prevented by developing healthy and meaningful relationship, having a positive attitude towards life and sharing one’s problems with others.
Also, a consultant psychiatrist, Dr Olumide Adegbokun, has advocated improved mental healthcare to stem incidence of suicide in Nigeria.
The World Suicide Prevention Day is marked globally every September 10 to address and prevent mental health related issues that lead to suicide.
Adegbokun, who works at the Alimosho General Hospital, Lagos, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday that suicide is one of the 10 leading causes of deaths globally.
He, however, attributed 70 per cent of suicide cases to depressive disorder. According to him, cardiovascular diseases, renal diseases, complications, cancer and road accidents are the leading causes of deaths in the country.
“But recently, there have been increased cases of suicide, particularly in Lagos. There are initiatives that could be adopted to stem the negative effects of suicide, and that is why this day is set aside to sensitise people on the adverse effect of suicide on society.”
MEANWHILE, the Suicide Research Prevention Initiative (SURPIN) has raised concern over rising suicide cases in the country. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 800,000 people die by suicide every year.
To mark this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day, SURPIN is holding an e-conference on September 12 with the theme, ‘Together Towards Collaborative Resilience’.
Consultant Psychiatrist and coordinator, SURPIN, Dr. Raphael Ogbolu, said that in 2012 in Nigeria, the rate of suicide was 6.5, but increased to 9.5 in 2015.
He said: “Presently, this is official rate and we hope at the end of 2020, it will be updated. This increase is why the WHO is concerned. There is a need to raise more awareness on this issue. This year has been plagued with COVID-19 just like other countries around the world and attendant uncertainty, disruption of previous normal way of living has tasked the resilience of people which led to other factors like suicide.”
Ogbolu said he was worried that there might be a second wave as people begin to face the financial impact of the coronavirus lockdown.
He said: “The single largest contributor to suicide is untreated clinical depression and that is why addressing clinical depression is one of the ways to address suicide. Other factors are chronic medical conditions, hopelessness, job loss, marital conflicts, academic challenges and other life stressors.
“To help save lives, SURPIN is present in 32 states with over 100 professionals who are ready to offer help. We have the support of the Lagos State Ministry of Social Welfare, National Directorate of Employment and hope to work with other government agencies. Every six months we update our hotlines to make life better and reach more people.”