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When death is not the end

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Most people who commit suicide could be doing it as a result of a mental health problem or a psychosocial challenge.

The increasing cases of suicide across the world have continued to attract attention. Those committing suicide cut across gender, age, and social status.

Although there is no available data on the demography of suicides and suicide attempts, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a recent report that 800,000 people worldwide commit suicide every year.

Dr. Ninyo Omidiji, a psychiatrist and clinician at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, said suicide is the third-leading cause of death, especially among young people around the world.

According to him, suicide is an aggression directed in wards, an intentionally inflicted harm on oneself, resulting in a fatal outcome. “In your very locality, someone might just be contemplating taking his or her life as we speak.

“I wish we had a steady and holistic approach to supporting one another. For inexplicable reasons, the Lagos Lagoon is synonymous with suicide and suicide attempts for Lagos residents.

Instead of being a vehicle for trade and wealth creation, the lagoon has become a place where many choose to fatally end their frustrations on earth.

Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Emergency Agency (LASEMA), recently bemoaned the spate of self-inflicted deaths on the waters below the famous Third Mainland Bridge.

According to him, the 11.8-kilometer-long lagoon has witnessed a series of suicide cases in the last four months.

For instance, on Nov. 11, an unidentified lady dived into the Lagos lagoon in an apparent case of suicide. An official of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) said the lady alighted from a commercial cab on the bridge and plunged into the lagoon.

On March 18, a medical doctor committed suicide by jumping off the Third Mainland Bridge into the lagoon. The victim, Dr. Orji Allwell, had asked his driver to park his black SUV with number plate LND 476 EE on the popular bridge and leap into the lagoon.

The following day, another woman attempted to take her life by jumping into the Lagos lagoon. She had jumped from the Maza-Maza Bridge in the Mile 2 area of Lagos. However, she was rescued before she could drown.

An eyewitness said the woman was trekking and got to the middle of the bridge, climbed the railing, and jumped. Dr Olayinka Atilola, Consultant Psychiatrist, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), said most people who committed suicide could be doing it as a result of mental health problem or a psychosocial challenge.

According to him, psychosocial problems exist at the individual level and include anxiety, depression, hostility, and hopelessness. He urged the government to ensure that mental health services are provided in each of the primary healthcare centers nationwide.

“The best approach to addressing suicide is that psychiatric help should be provided at every primary health center because many people solve their health problems at the primary level.”

“The federal and state governments should endeavor to have a program that allows people to talk about their health problems and other challenges of life that confront them daily,” he said. Dr. Funmi Akinola, a consultant psychiatrist in Yaba, Lagos, said many factors could be responsible for suicide, which include failed relationships, sexual and physical assault, and financial challenges, among others. She said that these factors could have an emotional effect on an individual when they become overwhelming. Akinola called on the government to think of establishing hot lines for guidance and counseling”

“Mr. Haruna Abdullahi, Publisher of World Entourage Magazine, while recounting his experience in a suicide attempt, said the moment he lost his mother, he became empty and sullen. “Yes, I am still empty; part of me is covered in heaps; I lost it; the desire to live ceased; all my struggles in life were for the comfort of my mother. “I took to adulthood early in life, even as a child, to see my mother happy.” I was in the race to make her proud. I got married early to make her a grandmother. “I wasn’t too pained that she died because Allah decreed that we would all die, but I was pained because of all the memories we shared,” he said. “Death has a way of taking away the present, leaving you with biting memories; my mother died and left behind constricted memories of our yesterday.” He called on Nigerians to always engage the people around them, adding that they could be weighed down by depression”

A cleric, Bunmi Gabriel, said taking someone’s life as a result of depression will rather compound the problem than solve it, saying time heals all wounds.

He said suicide can be both physical and spiritual, stressing that physical depression can come as a result of not achieving targets as and when they are due.

“When you cannot do those things you are targeting at a certain age, it can lead to physical depression.” He said one factor that can trigger suicide is being depressed but refusing to talk to people about it.

“People should be encouraged to talk about their experiences, especially with those who are in the same age bracket.” He advised those feeling uncomfortable with life to associate with people either in church, at community meetings, or at social gatherings where they can meet people and share their experiences.

Mr. Adedotun Ajiboye, clinical psychologist with Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, advised relatives, friends, and colleagues of persons suffering from depression to be extra vigilant.

Ajiboye said people who suffered from depression had the tendency to become suicidal and called on friends and relatives to always be proactive once they notice any unusual behavior by their relative.

He said a terminal medical condition, poverty, the loss of a loved one, or loss of money, among other factors, often lead a person to depression and contemplate suicide.

“People are passing through a lot of tough times, and they may not want to share their experiences, so religious leaders must learn to engage people.”

“We must call our loved ones regularly to check on their welfare and see how we can be of assistance; you do not know if that call will just save a life,” the psychologist said. Unfortunately, suicides magnify the problems that the victim seeks to end. The victim leaves behind grieving relatives who are likely to be thrown into deeper poverty as a result of losing their loved one and breadwinner.

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