A consultant psychiatrist, Dr

Ogbolu made this known at an Ordinary General Meeting organised by the Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, on Wednesday in Lagos.

The theme of the meeting was entitled: “No Health Without Mental Health: Break the Silence’’.

The consultant who works at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, called on mental health practitioners to begin to look at the possibility of the role drugs played in suicide prevention.

“We are looking at the role of drugs we prescribe to patients; we can now use the drugs to get the patients not to end their lives.

“The first way is to effectively treat mental health conditions; that is using drugs to make sure that we use the drugs most effectively.

“Those who have depression, schizophrenia and drug abuse, treat them; in that way, the patients will not get to that point where they want to take their own lives.

“Also, somebody who does not have a mental health condition, but may be suicidal can actually use drugs to prevent the person from committing suicide which is a new area practitioners are researching.

“We need to get practitioners aware and to begin to look into these areas,’’ he said.

He urged practitioners to be aware of such instances and look at the toxicity and dangers in the drugs they prescribed to their patients.

“If it is a drug that has high toxicity, we will not give them much at the time so that they will not go and ingest everything and kill themselves.

“Also, we want to avoid combining too many drugs, because that can also put the patients at risk,’’ he said.

Ogbolu urged the general public to seek help on behalf of people who were attempting suicide.

He said: “The number of people who want to commit suicide are actually doubting whether to do it or not.

“Most people who end up killing themselves have mentioned it one way or the other to somebody.

“So, when you hear anybody talking about it, ask, seek help on behalf of the person and also remove anything such people can use to kill themselves.’’

Another consultant psychiatrist at the hospital, Dr Dapo Adegbaju, said that the way forward to improving mental health in Nigeria was to take mental health seriously as a people.

Adegbaju urged the government to invest more in mental health and to see mental health as any other health challenges like hypertension, diabetes and cancer.

“By doing so, more people will become enlightened and know more about mental health issues and reduce stigmatisation,’’ he said.

The consultant said that the challenges facing the economy could lead to many people breaking down and having mental health issues.

He said: “The recession has caused a lot of burden on people; people are losing their jobs and cannot feed their families and make ends meet.

“These can push people over the edge and make them commit suicide.’’

The President, ARD, Yaba Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Bolanle Ajayi, said that the theme of the meeting was chosen because of the cases of suicides that were being reported.

Ajayi said that mental health practitioners need to do more on advocacy for mental health in order to reduce the burden of mental disorders in the society.

“It is based on the need to do a lot more on advocacy that we chose the theme `No Health Without Menatl Health: Break the Silence’.

“We need to begin to educate people to speak out and talk more about these issues; this will help to reduce the burden,’’ she said.