By Chioma Obinna
Irked by the rising cases of suicide in Nigeria, MeaningfulWorld, an Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention, ATOP, last week trained Nigerian doctors comprising of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurses & resident doctors, and social workers among other professionals at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, on how trauma could lead to suicide as well as different healing therapies for individual’s level of trauma.
This is coming at a time most Nigerians have been victimised and traumatised by various religious, community violence as well as the current banditry attacks. Unfortunately, little or nothing has been done on the mental health of the people.
In a chat with Good Health Weekly, during the one- day workshop organised by Department of Psychiatric, LUTH, the Founder/ President of ATOP, who is also a professor of Psychology College, Columbia University, Dr Ani Kalayjian said ATOP was concerned about the level of trauma Nigerians in conflicts areas must be going through.
According to Kalayjian, Nigeria is currently top in Africa with suicide rate and ranks 15th in the world. She blamed the upsurge to age -long trauma that most people have passed through without knowing.
She said most of the trauma which now blossom to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, may have been handed over to people by their great grandparents that never healed usually known as ‘horizontal violence’ in their practice.
“A lot of religious motivated fights and burning of mosques and churches, all these comes from horizontal violence, when the trauma is not healed. These people keep a lot of pasts for a long time they cannot negotiate or communicate, they are depressed so this trauma, frustration and disappointment continue to grow until it blows and there is no way to go out and then blows horizontally. That is why brothers and sisters kill each other in different countries because they don’t know what to do with their frustrations.”
Stating that PTSD has been implicated in suicide, she explained that high trauma causes despair and hopelessness, depression which all leads to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The Professor of Psychology explained that PTSD is a high level of stress that can travel down to 14 generations.
“If you have experienced trauma after a month and not getting better you need to see a counsellor, psychologist, social workers. They can guide you through and help you.”
Kalayjian noted that ATOP was founded in 1990 to promote the advancement of knowledge about the immediate and long-term human consequences of traumatic events and promotes effective methods of prevention, relief and restoration to those traumatised as well as to those treating traumatised populations.
She said under the MeaningfulWorld humanitarian outreach, she had developed seven-step biopsychosocial and Eco-spiritual model through which various aspects of trauma, distress dispute, conflict or disagreement are assessed, identify, explored processed, worked through and reintegrated with lessons learned from the process.
Earlier, a Clinical Psychologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Dr Juliet Ottoh explained that the one day workshop organised in collaboration with the MeaningfulWorld with major on trauma was designed to resolve the crisis people have regarding PTSD which translates into having trauma. She noted that the training was also to expose them to areas such as cognitive behaviour therapy, mindfulness therapy and some other therapies needed to help Nigerians in trauma situations.