By Tayo Ogunbiyi
RECENT happenings across the country show that there is an alarming upsurge in suicide cases. Usually, Nigerians are considered lovers of life and as such would never contemplate suicide for whatever reason. But recent occurrences in the country have since changed that.
Experts have affirmed that this current situation might not be unconnected with prevalence of depression among Nigerians. The Medilexicon’s Medical Dictionary depicts depression as medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning.
Depression is more than just a feeling of being sad or moody for a few days. Symptoms of depression include feeling sad or empty, loss of interest in favourite activities, over eating, or not wanting to eat at all, not being able to sleep or sleeping too much, fatigue, feeling of hopelessness, irritation, anxiety, guilt, aches, pains, thought of death or suicide, erratic or changed behaviour, loneliness, desperation, among others. It can also lead to marital troubles as depression victims find it very hard adjusting to family values and ethics.
Causes of depression are complex and vary, depending on the particular disorder and individuals. Genetics, drugs, loss, disease or injury, neurocognitive and psychological mechanisms, and life experiences, society and culture, can all contribute to depression in people. The most common view, however, is that depression tends to result from genetic vulnerabilities and environmental stressors that combine to trigger disorder.
From all indications, the nation’s tough economic situation has increased the number of citizens who run the risk of clinical depression. Reports indicate that the rate of marital break ups has increased, while matrimonial violence occasioned by economic woes has equally multiplied significantly even as more men now abscond from home to escape growing economic responsibilities.
Thus, we now have more women who are over burdened with excruciating domestic pressures. Cases of pronounced mental health condition have also increased. Along major cities in the country, you are likely to come across clean and beautifully dressed compatriots who talk and walk alone, actually without any destination in mind. This, to medical workers is a vital sign of depression- induced insanity, which if not quickly attended to could lead to serious psychiatric condition.
Obviously, if depression is not properly addressed, it could culminate in suicide. Suicide is almost a strange occurrence in our clime as Nigerians are, perhaps, the most optimistic set of people on earth. The resilience of a typical Nigerian as well as his dynamic spiritual fortitude makes suicide the least of his contemplations. Recent events have, however, altered this entire hypothesis. So, Nigerians are not, after all, immune from suicide.
Depression could also result into mental illness. Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Mental illnesses cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence. This illness falls along a continuum of severity.
The causes of mental illness are complex and vary according to the particular disorder and individuals. Genetics, early development, drugs, a loss of family member, disease or injury, neurocognitive and psychological mechanisms, and life experiences, society and culture, can all contribute to the development or progression of different mental disorders in people.
The most common, view, however, is that mental disorder tends to result from genetic vulnerabilities and environmental stressors combining to cause patterns of dysfunction or trigger disorder. Signs of mental health condition include erratic or changed behaviour, depression, loneliness, desperation, among others.
No matter how seemingly the effects of mental health issues are, whether it is depression, epilepsy, dementia, alcohol dependence or death, they can be managed effectively with the affected individual living a reasonably normal life. Not managing mental health in the workplace has a huge impact on individuals and is equally bad for business too, with an estimated annual cost to employers of over 25 billion pounds.
Recent survey indicates 40 per cent of employers view workers with mental health conditions as a significant risk while 42 percent of employers are still underestimating the relevance of mental health in their workplace.
Given the negative perception from employers, many applicants may feel that it is in their best interest not to disclose their mental conditions. Today, 73 percent of work places across the globe still have no formal mental health policy.
To stem current tide of depression, mental illness and suicide across the country, the Federal Government must make concerted efforts to fix the economy. The National Assembly should be more involved in activities that would make our economy to become buoyant again.
State governments should look inward to develop their local economies while faith based organisations, NGOs, the media and relevant government agencies should be resolute on the futility of suicide. At family level, more channels of communication should be opened. Emotional healing occurs whenever a problem is shared.