October 24, 2019

Suicide: Advocates call for establishment of National Suicide Prevention Strategy

Suicide: Advocates call for establishment of National Suicide Prevention Strategy

By Chioma Obinna

Mental health advocates have called for the establishment of a National Suicide Prevention Strategy in Nigeria.

The mental health advocates comprising health professionals, social workers, and non-governmental organisations decried the rising trend of suicide cases in Nigeria.

The stakeholders who make the call at a press conference in Lagos on the upcoming  2019 National conference on Suicide Prevention billed to hold on Saturday, 26, October at the University of Lagos with the theme: “Suicide, a Challenge to Developing country,” said it is time Nigeria put up stringent measures to address barriers and factors escalating mental health issues in the country.

Speaking, the Chief Executive Officer, The NOUS Foundation, Ms. Lade Olugbemi said there is a need to break barriers in mental health such as cultural, language, religious, institutional stigma and community system among others.

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Tracing the rise in suicide cases to broken family values, she said: “Another barrier is the fact that our community system is broken down. We have allowed so much westernisation to replace what we used to experience as Nigerians. Everybody is self-centered not looking out for other people. This is what made us as a society and all of it is broken down.”

Olugbemi urged the country’s legislature to repeal the law criminalising suicide as the problem was more of a medical issue. She stressed the need to demystify mental illness  to enable victims to seek the treatment

“We need to develop a national suicide prevention strategy immediately to put things in check before the situation gets worst.”

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She said the upcoming conference will focus on ways to demystify mental disorders, solutions to decriminalised suicide as well as other issues that would create awareness around mental health issues in the country.

On her part, the Chief Executive Officer, Sparkle Foundation, Olasimbo Ojuroye said a stigma remains a major problem in tackling mental health issues.

Ojuroye said stigma has made it impossible for a lot of people to seek help, hence, the need to decriminalised suicide to ensure victims get help when they need it.