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Suicide Prevention Day: Expert wants FG to provide effective mental services

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Dr Uchendu Ugochukwu, Department of Mental Health, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, has called on the Federal Government to provide effective mental health services to prevent suicide.
In an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Tuesday in Abuja, Ugochukwu said urged government not to stop at providing healthcare at the tertiary level but ensure that the basics are provided at all primary healthcare centres.
He said that provision of social security and employment would also go a long way to help in preventing suicide.
reports that the World Suicide Prevention Day is marked annually by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to create awareness on mental health.
The 2019 World Suicide Prevention Day theme is: “Working Together to Prevent Suicide’’
According to him, the WHO report says that about 800,000 people die due to suicide every year which is equivalent to one person dying every 40 seconds on account of suicide.
“In addition to this, there are indications that for each adult who died by suicide, there may have been 20 to 25 others attempting suicide.
“Suicide is a global phenomenon and occurs throughout the lifespan and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year old globally.
“Suicide rates largely vary from country to country but the rates are higher in middle and low income countries,” Ugochukwu said.
He said a study conducted in South Western Nigeria among 10 to 17 year-olds found that over 20 per cent reported suicidal ideation and approximately 12 per cent reported that they had attempted suicide in the past one year.
Ugochukwu said that the data was no doubt worrisome but probably not as startling as the realisation that these at best are an underestimation of the rates of suicide and suicidality worldwide.
The expert said the situation was worst in Africa, adding that suicide is generally under-reported.
“The low data availability for suicide and suicidal behaviour is largely due to factors such as social stigma and the taboo to openly discuss suicide in many African cultures and religion.
“As well as the belief that discussing it openly increases its likelihood and the illegality of suicidal behaviour in some countries.
“Suicide is therefore often a secretive act surrounded by taboo, and may be unrecognised, misclassified or deliberately hidden in official records of death.
“Most people who take their lives would have been severely depressed for a while and have actively contemplated and planned the execution of the act,” Ugochukwu said.
He said that suicide and depression was usually caused by interplay of many factors crucial in developing the right approach to stemming the tide of depression and resultant suicidal behaviour.
Ugochukwu said that mental health difficulties, including ones which contribute to suicidal ideation and attempts, are the result of a multitude of factors – biological, psychological, social and cultural.
“The challenges presented by this heterogeneity can only be overcome by an approach to suicide prevention that brings together family, friends, co-workers, community members, educators, religious leaders, healthcare professionals, political officials and governments.
“This is why the definitive approach to substantially reduce suicide rates has to involve everyone ‘working together’.
“Family and friends must be sensitive to each other’s needs and not take it for granted.
“Co-workers and bosses at the workplace should try to find out why that colleague or employee seems distracted at work and no longer performs as efficiently as he or she used to do prior to now,” he said.
Ugochukwu said healthcare professionals not just those in the mental health field must have a heightened index of suspicion by identifying patients at risk of suicide and manage appropriately.
He however advised Nigerians to resolve to be better listeners, and to care for neighbours, saying that they may just be all that makes the difference between life and death.
reports that World Suicide Prevention Day is observed on Sept. 10 each year to promote worldwide action to prevent suicides.
OEO/DE/MST
Edited by Dorcas Jonah/Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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