Depression and suicide

Depression And Suicide: Curbing The Menace

Depression and suicide menace:

Nigerians seem to have developed an affinity for suicide with ingesting a popular insecticide called Sniper the preferred method. It has got so bad that some people have called for strict regulation of sniper or even its outright ban. However, banning or strict regulation of Sniper may not really help much as there are one thousand and one ways to commit suicide. If Sniper is banned or kept out of reach, a determined person will surely find others ways to end his or her life

The best way to curb suicide in Nigeria is to investigate and take care of its roots. Earlier this year, Steve Hanke, an economist from John Hopkins University in Baltimore, US,  ranked Nigeria as the sixth most miserable country in the world in ‘Hanke’s Annual Misery Index 2018: The World’s Saddest (And Happiest) Countries.’

When the misery ranking came out, it was received with a lot of controversies and debate. Some people believed the result reflected the true state of Nigeria, while others were of the opinion that it is not a true reflection of Nigeria.

Unemployment and inflation are some of the indexes used in the Honke’s Annual Misery report and Nigeria’s unemployment and inflation figures aren’t encouraging.

Food, shelter and clothing are among the very basic needs of humans. Inability to meet these very basic needs can bring in a feeling of hopelessness and misery. If not checked, this can lead to depression.

Depression can be very terrible. You may not understand how terrible depression can be until you are at your lowest point.

Depression is the feeling of severe despondency and dejection. On the other hand, miserable means to be wretchedly unhappy. Imagine experiencing depression and misery. What a terrible combination!

We may be so quick to deny and dismiss the report that placed Nigeria as the sixth most miserable country in the world. However, I see a great connection and correlation between the Honke’s misery report and the increased suicide rate in Nigeria, especially among the youth.

Report has it that Nigeria has the fifteenth highest suicide rate in the world (and seventh in Africa).

In Nigeria, we are very religious and this makes us to either spiritualize or trivialize some serious issues, including mental-health related issues. Several times, when people open up on what they are going through and even on how they feel, we mostly dismiss it with the “it is well” response. Actually, on most of such cases, “it is NOT well”!

Factors That Fuel Depression And Suicide:

Depression is not an instantaneous thing. Rather, it is a process which normally starts with a thought pattern and can be fueled by the following factors:

  1. Psychological factors: These include family background, abused childhood (sexual, physical, emotional abuse, etc.)
  2. Physical factors: Such as long-term physical health problems, illnesses (especially terminal), side effects of medical treatments, painful events like child birth, violence in family, etc.
  3. Social factors: These include divorce/breakup, marital problems (such as infidelity) loss of loved one (bereavement), job loss, isolation, financial problems (extreme poverty and homelessness)

  Curbing High Rate of Depression And Suicide in Nigeria:

Curbing the menace of high rate of depression and suicide is not to be achieved by blaming the company producing Sniper insecticide or throwing blame around. There is a need for everyone concerned to take solemn responsibilities. These include:

At the individual level:

  • Speak out and get help when overwhelmed: You are the chief custodian of your life and well being. Take charge of your life and well being and speak out to the right people whenever you feel the need to do so. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by issues and situations, don’t bottle it up and pretend that all is well, when in the actual sense, all is not well. Instead, open up to the right persons or institutions and get the required help to move on. Nobody can or should claim to be super human. We all need help at one point or the other. There is nothing wrong with seeking for help, especially, if you are getting the help from the right place. Don’t keep quiet and get lost in the thought of hopelessness. Rather, call a trusted friend, or family member.
  • Take life simple: Don’t be too serious with life.
  • Have realistic expectations on life: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take life one step at a time.
  • Appreciate the little things: Have a heart of gratitude and appreciate the little things in life.
  • Take care of yourself: Take care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
  • Be happy: You owe yourself happiness. So, don’t cheat yourself on this. Be happy!!!

At the Government level:

  • Government should implement people oriented policies that would alleviate and reduce high rate of poverty among the citizenry
  • There is need for government to create enabling environment for more job creation  through good policies and reduce rate of unemployment
  • Government should invest heavily on infrastructural development so that more businesses can survive and the youth gainfully engaged
  • Public enlightenment and awareness programs on the dangers of suicide through government agencies like the National Orientation Agency
  • Government should invest in mental health by encouraging people to go into mental health related professions like psychiatrics and psychology.
  • Government should create and empower functional mental health care centres with functional and easy to access phone numbers across the nation

The society:

  • Be your brothers and your sisters’ keeper. Yes! Lend a listening ear where you can. Call for help when you see danger. It could save a life.

Where To Get Help For Depression And Suicide:

  1. Lagos State Government help lines – 08058820777 and 09030000741
  2. Mentally aware: +2348051493163; Email:; Address: 70, Olonode Street, off Alagomeji Yaba Lagos.
  3. Click here for other helplines.

Once there is life, there is hope!!!

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