By Gabriel Olawale
The Executive Director of Nirvana Initiative, Modupe Babawale has called on Nigerian health authorities to pay particular attention to mental health.
Speaking at a seminar to mark this year’s World Mental Health Day with the theme, ‘Suicide Prevention, Babawale noted that suicide ranks among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages, and is the second most common cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years old.
The event, put together by Nirvana Initiative, in partnership with Access Bank, was held at Ondo State NYSC permanent orientation camp, Ikare Akoko. It was attended by over 2,000 young people who were taken through the meaning of mental health, the factors responsible and how it can be handled.
According to Babawale, about 79% of all suicides occur within low and middle-income countries, where the majority of the world’s population are based, stating that for every individual who dies by suicide, there may be more than 20 other individuals attempting to end their life.
Babawale also debunked the notion that only adults exhibit suicidal behaviours, stating that many children and young people engage in this kind of behaviour as a result of violence, sexual abuse, bullying and cyberbullying.
“Suicide is a global public health problem that deserves the attention of all the actors in the field of mental health, including scientific and professional organizations, organizations for mental health users and their families, and universities.
“It deserves particular attention from national health authorities since it is their responsibility to craft policies and directives aimed at establishing strategies to prevent suicide and promote the public’s mental health. The role of both print and audiovisual communication media and of social media is no less important since their participation can have positive as well as negative effects, depending on how they address this subject,” she said.
The sessions were facilitated by Austin Momoh and Bukola Falade, who were both young people who both survived suicide attempts. They used their personal life experiences to pass heart-touching messages to the corps members. The sessions covered the meaning of mental health, the factors responsible and the way forward.
Austin made clear that there are numerous complex factors that contribute to a suicide. According to him, he described Suicide as all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result.
This session was brought to an end with a question to the audience on what they think are the causes of Mental health.
Participants identified issues like poverty, relationship, loneliness, upbringing, peer influence, disappointments and low self-esteem as factors that contribute to the rise in suicide cases among young people.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that suicide accounts for over 800,000 deaths per year, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and The object of making suicide prevention the theme of World Mental Health Day in 2019 is to attract the attention of governments so that the issue might be given priority in public health agendas around the world.