The unnoticed prevalence of suicide in Nigeria

Nigerians were once one of the happiest people on earth, but this is not the case anymore.

Suicide in Nigeria (Nigeria Health Watch)

Before 2018, Nigeria ranked at number 75 of the happiest people in the world. According to the World's happiness index, Nigeria is now at 116.

According to a report by World Health Organisation (W.H.O), the dwindling economy and the harsh economic situation of the country has made more Nigerians contemplate suicide and even go as far as committing the act.

Psychologically, periods of economic depression leads to an increase in suicide rates.

According to W.H.O, Nigeria has the highest rate of suicide and depression in Africa, the current rate of suicide in Nigeria is 9.50% out of 100, 000 people.

W.H.O also discovered that 80% of suicides occur among low-income earners. Suicide rates are higher in rural areas and semi-urban areas. This shows that more poor people commit suicide than the rich and middle class.

Even though low-income earners do not have time to think about their mental health, they are still faced with these challenges emboldened by the crumbling social and economic infrastructure.

Interestingly, attempting suicide is still considered a crime in the country, according to Section 327 of the Criminal Code.

However, Lagos State has amended the law to recommend treatment for such persons. Lagos State is the only state in Nigeria to enact such a law.

The rate of suicide among young people is also high because of some of their troubling activities.

A research carried out by a group of scientists who published their finding on Pub Med stated that, "The mean age of the reported cases was 36.33 (15.48) years."

"The majority of the reported cases were male (80.6%), married (51.8%), students (33.6%), living in a semi-urban area (40.3%) and among the age group of 25–34 (25.3%)."

The reasons given for these suicide rates was 'financial constraints and psychiatric illness'.

The suicide rate was also high among students, with more males attempting suicide than females.

The school environment comes with its attendant educational and social obligation, which can have an adverse effect on the student's mental health.

Without adequate counselling and help from health care workers, family and friends, more and more young people will see suicide as an escape route.

In general, men are less likely to speak up about their mental health and get help preferring to bottle up their feelings and 'just be a man.'

Suicide in Nigeria is mainly done through the use of pesticides, the common one is a brand known as sniper, others are through hanging, setting oneself on fire with kerosene, drowning and drug overdose.

Two researchers, Emmanuel U. Asogwa and John. O. Onyezere from the University of Port Harcourt had this to say "Nigerians have started to observe and feel seriously debris of economic recession.

"This debris includes layoff/job losses, business closures, economic shock...unemployment, health spending cuts... psychological and behavioral morbidity, such as depression ,anxiety, substance use and abuse, violent behavior and suicide."

Economic reasons are not the sole cause of suicide. Feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and isolation can trigger suicidal tendencies.

The way forward seems simple, but it is arduous. A boost in the country’s economy will put a smile on many faces and alleviate feelings of depression and suicide.

Also, more awareness on mental health, therapy and teaching young people exercises to cope with anxiety, depression and other mental illness would go a long way to curb suicide.

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