Worried by the increasing spate of suicide in the country, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi Araba, has initiated a Suicide Prevention Service called the Suicide Research & Prevention Initiative and Staff Emotional Care Services, SURPIN/SECS. Disclosing this to Vanguard in a statement, Coordinator of the initiative, Dr. Raphael E. Ogbolu said the events of the past few days have further underscored the need to commence these services immediately.
It would be recalled that on Sunday, a man committed suicide by jumping off the 3rd Mainland Bridge, while a woman was reported to have attempted it also in another part of Lagos. Several incidents of suicide bomb attack incidents involving adults and children have been recorded in the Northeastern part of the country in recent times.
Ogbolu, who is a specialist in Consultation-liaison Psychiatry/Emergency Psychiatry, said as a foremost health institution, LUTH developed the SURPIN/SECS programme and will be collaborating with all relevant agencies to enhance efforts to help save lives and prevent death by suicide both locally and nationally.
According to him, suicide is a global event with the World Health Organisation (WHO) reporting that up to one million people die by suicide every year, despite most cases not being reported. “Eighty-five percent of it occur in Low and Middle Income Countries, LMIC, of which Nigeria is one.” Explaining further, he said: “In that moment of desperation and utter hopelessness, what people need is a listening ear and support to help them choose to live on. Many of those who are so saved have come to thank God they did not take their lives.
“This is why we must keep trying to reach them, especially at that moment by encouraging them to speak up and not feel ashamed.” Noting that suicide is preventable, Ogbolu said the problem is a lack of prevention strategies in most countries including Nigeria. “One way to prevent it is to take care of our mental health, especially because depression is a very significant cause of suicide. “Apart from depression, it risk is also associated with substance abuse especially alcohol, chronic painful medical conditions, terminal medical illnesses, social isolation and lack of support and other major mental health problems.
“It is important to note that suicide ideation and risk affect not only adults but can also affect adolescents. Stakeholders and the general public can effectively work together to help reduce the rate in line with WHO’s goals of reducing it by 10 per cent by 2020.” Ogbolu said there was need to provide encouragement and disseminate relevant information to the public, noting that more information on the initiative would be made available within the next few days.
Experts say common symptoms exhibited by a potential suicide patient includes talking about it, preoccupation with death, taking unnecessary risks as if having a death wish, destructive behavior, feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, self-hatred, increasing social isolation, increased alcohol or drug use amongst others. They say that a sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to attempt suicide.