5 ways to help someone who might be suicidal according to a Nigerian therapist

Here is what you should do when someone you know is dealing with  suicidal thoughts.
  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about four percent of Nigerians deal with depression with an additional 4,894,557 Nigerians (2.7 per cent of the population) suffering from anxiety disorders. 
  • WHO Suicide Ranking also shows that Nigeria is now the 30th most suicide-prone country in the world (15.1 suicides per 100,000 population annually).
  • With these staggering figures, it is important to know what to do when someone you know might be suicidal.

As mentioned above, millions of Nigerians are prone to depression, anxiety, mental health issues and suicide.

It is, in fact, one of the leading causes of death in the country which is why it’s important to know the red flags to look out for when someone might be thinking of ending their life.

These potential warning signs, according to Olugbile Holloway, a Counsellor/Therapist and Founder of Hidden Conversations, are:

  • Poor or sad mood
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in usual activities
  • Change in appetite (More or less than usual)
  • Sleep disturbance /Insomnia (Worry circuit)
  • Psychomotor retardation or Agitation
  • Low energy (demotivation not particularly glucose energy loss)
  •  Feeling of worthlessness and guilt
  • Difficulty thinking and processing reality
  • Reoccurring thoughts of death or suicide.

According to the therapist, these symptoms could be problematic when they occur in the space of one month.

Dealing with someone who may be at risk of suicide


Knowing these signs, here is how to help someone dealing with suicidal thoughts:

  • Show compassion

The first step is to be compassionate. In the words of Holloway, “We must always show that we care and that we see the person as an individual and not just a pity case. Take time to truly understand the person and their pain points.”

  • Have a listening ear

The next thing to do is to “talk to the person, but listen more than you speak.”

  • Do NOT be judgemental

“Avoid getting into any theological debate about suicide or pass judgment if the person confides in you that they are having such thoughts,” he recommends.

  • Get professional help

In his words, “Most importantly, refer the person to a counsellor or therapist.”

  • Be there for them

The last thing you can do is to “check up on them from time to time, even if it is just a text message.”


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