Some stakeholders in mental health have called for proactive measures to be put in place to prevent incidences of suicide in Nigeria post COVID-19.
They made the call at an Annual National E-conference organised by the Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN) held via Zoom on Saturday in Lagos. Theme of the conference was: “Together Toward Collaborative Resilience: Building Resilience Post COVID-19.”
It was held in commemoration of the World Suicide Day, marked annually on Sept. 10.
Commenting, Prof. Andrew Zamani of Clinical Psychology, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, said that collective resilience in preventing mental disorders, which could lead to suicide, largely depends on leadership. Zamani said the leadership must be the one that has integrity, inclined toward social inclusiveness, equity and fairness.
“Leadership must be accountable and encourages broad based participation; unlimited capacity to protect lives and property.
“Also, it is one that connects with people through strategic communication,” he said.
Also, Dr Ayodele Coker, a Consultant Psychiatrist, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, said the universal prevention of suicide would require reducing stress in the community.
According to him, this will require interventions that are designed to reducing the risk of developing mental health issues.
“Increase public health awareness, education, advocacy through electronic, print and social media and to also stay connected with loved ones through telephone calls.
“Also, adopting lifestyle choices including good sleep, diet and physical exercises, ” Coker said. Contributing, Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, said that the Mental Health Bill was currently on its course to final passage.
Oloriegbe said: “Within 2019, the Bill had its first and second reading at the Senate and there was a joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee consideration for clause by clause provisions of the Bill.
“It is highly hopeful that we shall be presenting a report to the Senate on its resumption later this September for the final passage.”
In his remarks, the National Coordinator, SURPIN, Dr Raphael Ogbolu, said suicide was not uncommon in Nigeria.Ogbolu said that SURPIN’s latest hotline call analysis showed that it received calls from 29 states and the FCT since its inception in 2017.
“We had a total of 264 calls of which 149 were from people in crisis; the avarage age of the callers was 30 years; the youngest caller was 12 years old and the oldest was 71 years old.
“About 70 per cent of them was having thoughts of suicide and the commonest method being planned was through poisoning,” he said.