SUICIDE PREVENTION NEEDS CONCERTED EFFORTS
Experts have call for concerted efforts across sectors to tackle the growing spate of suicides in the country. They made the call at an event held at the Federal University of Technology Akure under the auspices of the Management of Ondo State Neuropsychiatric Specialist Hospital, Akure in conjunction with the Student Affairs Division of the FUTA to celebrate the 2019 world mental health day. One of the exerts ,a Consultant Psychiatrist with the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Dr Kunle Adesokan said that constant funding of bodies concerned with mental health will reduce the spate of suicides in the Country as well as concerted efforts across sectors. Adesokan Speaking on the Topic, Mental Health Promotion & Suicide Prevention, Dr Adesokan said Mental, neurological and substance use disorders make a substantial contribution to the Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) noting that a growing number of the population currently suffers neuropsychiatric conditions which put them at risk of committing suicide. The Don explained that the Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALY) assigned to certain diseases or disorders account for about 14 percent of the Global burden of diseases, summing up the number of years lived with disability and years of life lost due to the specified diseases. He added that suicide is thrice more common in men than women but women attempt suicide more frequently, explaining that men are more willing to end their lives through effective violent means. He said most completed suicides have been planned; precautions taken against discovery like choosing a lonely place or a time when no one is expected to show up.
Analyzing ways of suicide prevention, he stressed that better funding of government hospitals, public education, establishment of crisis centers, availability of mental health services & hotlines will improve social policy to tackle suicide as well as poverty. He added that mass media coverage should form the basis for the propagation of information on the more treatable cause of suicide like mental disorders and substance abuse, as well as available treatment options. This, he said will encourage health-seeking behaviour by those contemplating suicide.
Speaking on how to combat suicide, the Chief Medical Director, Ondo State Neuropsychiatric Specialist Hospital, Akure, Dr. Akinwumi Akinnuoye said mental health promotion involves actions that improve psychological well-being, early childhood interventions, children support programmes, socio-economic empowerment of women, social support for the elderly and vulnerable populations, mental health education and interventions in schools, housing policies, violence prevention and anti-discrimination laws. Hence, in addition to the input of the health sector, other sectors like education, labour, justice, welfare and infrastructure should get involved in combating suicide. “Therefore, identifying and embracing the factors that promote mental health, as well as the availability of effective, affordable and accessible mental health care are interventions to help in combating suicide” he added.
In his remark, the Ondo State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro who was represented by Dr. Adesoji spoke on the need to seek counsel from appropriate quarters in addressing the menace by encouraging people rather than bringing them down with destructive criticism. He emphatically noted that suicide is a killer and suicidal persons are very dangerous not just to themselves, but to other people as they can kill themselves and anybody else.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape in his address said it was unfortunate that constant and systematic awareness and funding in this area of health services has not been adequately taken care of by the government. He said rather than allow those with mental challenges to be roaming around the streets; they should be taken off the streets and cared for in specialized institutions. Thus, the aptness of the provision of more functional mental health services in the country. The Vice Chancellor further noted that there are many risk factors for mental illness which are rather common among us. Some of which are social, economic and environmental challenges. He added that there is also drug fueled mental epidemic common among youths caused by indulgence in abuse of hard and prescriptive drugs which eventually leads to delirium that affect mental stability. He charged government agencies to be more proactive in ensuring that administrations of such drugs are properly controlled.
The Chairman of the Occasion, Rev. Ayo Oladapo in his address said that God places high premium on human life. He therefore charged people to seek God’s face in every situation rather than mete undue harsh solutions such as suicide on themselves. Rev. Oladapo also called on government to do all in its power to make life more meaningful for the masses.
The Dean, Student Affairs Division, FUTA, Professor Gbenga Onibi stressed that mental health awareness is slowly becoming a mainstay of contemporary media. He said Nigerians previously saw depression as “White man sickness” This is no longer the case as statistics have shown countless cases of depression and its resultant suicides and attempted suicides. Depression negatively affects feeling, thinking and acting. Onibi further noted that it is heart rendering, anytime cases of suicide are reported. Prof. Onibi added that many youths are less traditional, more engaged into social media, too dependent on phones, lack patience, some are products of failed parenting strategies and their popular mode of communication is not face-to-face. They have less social and interpersonal skills compared to the older generations. This means that when they face challenges, they are not turning to people but to social media which only gives temporary relief devoid of coping strategies. He saluted those already educating people on mental health but called for more hands on deck; more education on depression, especially in places like the Universities and other Tertiary Institutions that are largely populated by a lot of young and vibrant people.