Suicide: Public Health Experts Call For Increased Mental Health Education


Public Health experts have called for increased mental awareness and education to help reduce rising cases of depression and suicide in Nigeria. They made the call while speaking across various platforms on recent suicide cases in Nigeria, suggesting actions to reduce the occurrences.

Dr. Chinomso Egemba, a global health advocate who works with Avon medical practice, in his latest opinion piece titled “Protecting Nigerians from Dichlorvos, how about protecting mental health” identified depression as a major cause of suicide. Egemba described depression as a medical condition, a psychological state of unhappiness or low morale, which lasts longer than several weeks. It may include ideation of self-inflicted injury or in extreme case, suicide.

According to Egemba, depression is usually caused by a decrease in the level of serotonin, a chemical in the brain, which serves as a contributor to feelings of well-being, and happiness in human. She therefor advocated for an increased awareness and education from the government and the private sector.

“We have to call on the bodies responsible which includes the government to increase the level of mental health awareness in Nigeria and set up toll free lines and counselling centers across the nation so that people battling depression can call or visit for help” Egemba advised.

In her remarks on another health programme, another expert, Dr. Chioma Nwakanma, a public health advocate and digital media strategist, during a recent interview on Eko Fm, Lagos said common health problems such as depression and anxiety affect one in four people and it may not be easy to notice.

“Many people still find it very difficult to discuss issues of depression and mental health. That may mean that many people keep their feelings about having a mental health problem a secret, even from family and friends” Nwakanma lamented.

However, as a means for recourse, Nwakanma called for increased care from friends and family of susceptible persons who may be having depression or any other mental case.

“These are times to support each other and help those who are not coping well to get the needed help. Family members must be deliberate in monitorin each other, to pick up unusual behaviour or attitude, which may be signs of depression and quickly call them out to medical attention. In all, more care should be given to people who are showing signs of emotional trauma or depression,” she stated.

Meanwhile, Dr. Tajudeen Abiola, a neuro-psychiatrist with the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Kaduna, while speaking on Liberty FM Kaduna advocated for deliberate education and awareness programme to increase the awareness and level of understanding around what constitutes mental health issues. By this, friends and families may quickly identify the indicators and take the necessary steps.

“Everyone in the community can help prevent suicide risk by learning about the warning signs and how best to respond effectively. It may not be to figure out if someone is at risk of suicide however, the warning signs may include: excessive worrying or fear, extreme mood changes, avoiding friends or social activities, changes in sleeping or eating habits, difficulty perceiving reality, changes in behaviour and personality, substance abuse and thinking or always talking about suicide.” Abiola said.

It would be recalled that recently, there have been an increase in reports about suicide among young people in Nigeria, mostly occasioned by depression.


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