A psychiatrist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Dr Tunde Fadipe, has called on the federal and state governments to block means of getting materials to commit suicide.
Fadipe stated this in Lagos at an event organised by the Psychiatry Department of LUTH to commemorate the 2019 World Mental Health Day. This year’s World Mental Health Day was themed, ‘Promoting Mental Health and Preventing Suicide.’
Fadipe said, “There are a lot of crisis in so many sectors in Nigeria and this may explain the rising rate of suicide. Universal prevention is that which is geared towards everybody and this include promoting people’s mental health, reducing access to means of committing suicide. Selective prevention is that which is geared towards those that gave high risk of committing suicide, like people who have mental illness, people who are discriminated against or people who have been victims of abuse. People who are observed to be going through uncontrollable issues should be made to get mental health intervention. The availability of a means to take one’s life makes one likely to commit suicide. People use whatever is readily available in their clime to take their lives. That is why we hear more of people taking their lives with Sniper than with a gun in Nigeria.
“As part of a prevention strategy, we need to curb suicide in this country. We live in a country where the mental health law is obsolete. We have a law that refers to the mentally ill as a lunatic, most times, that is why they don’t go for treatment because of stigma. We need a change of mental law, the one that protects everyone. Even the people at the seat of power are not immune to mental illnesses. As long as you have a brain, you are entitled to a mental illness or emotional problem. We also need a strategy document that will talk about suicide. The same way the ministry of health is interested in children who have polio; we need a data of how many people attempts to take their own lives. Then there is also the problem of criminalising suicide.”
Fadipe lamented the increase in suicide rate all over the world. Also, the Head of Psychiatry Department at LUTH, Dr Yewande Oshodi, urged Nigerians to look out for one another.
She said, “We want to help people living with mental illness. One major thing that should stop is stigmatisation against people living with mental health challenges. Our society has a vital role to play on how we can help people living with poor mental health. Warning signs must be taken seriously and attended to accordingly. Till we find our foot as a nation, let us individually look out for each other and put an end to stigmatisation. Jokes about mental ill health should also be stopped. It goes a long way to discourage the people concerned from seeking help.”
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