Dr Osagie Ohanire, Nigeria's Minister of Health

As Nigeria joins the global community to celebrate the 2019 World Mental Health day, the Federal Ministry of Health has said that Suicides are Preventable but the strategy calls for evidence-based multi-sector interventions that must transcend the barriers posed by stigma and taboos.

In a statement issued to mark the Day, it was said that the theme of this year’s celebration “SUICIDE PREVENTION”, is apt, considering the increasing rate of suicides globally, which Nigeria is not exempted from.  It disclosed that “Every year, 800,000 people take their lives and every 40 seconds, someone loses his/her life to suicide.”

Over 75% of these preventable deaths occur in countries like Nigeria, and for every suicide that is committed; more of it has been attempted. The statement regretted challenges associated with suicide prevention which includes: under reporting due to factors such as stigmatization and taboos, resulting in incorrect information. As such, the number of people affected is more than the available data on record.

The statement underlined that since suicide is a global occurrence with consequences that extend beyond the loss of lives in families and communities affected by that loss, a leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds globally, it makes suicide a major public health concern.

To this end, the statement expressed the Ministry’s concern about the scourge, particularly among young Nigerians and stressed that it is committed to implementing evidence-based interventions to control the plight on the populace. “It is a worthwhile endeavour to safeguard precious Nigerian lives and the Federal Ministry of Health will relentlessly pursue these efforts.” the statement noted.

The Ministry is also in the process of finalising Mental Health Legislation in Nigeria and updating the existing National Mental Health policy to promote mental health, prevent onset of mental health disorders and improve availability of mental health services in the country.

Linking suicide and mental health, the statement said  suicide usually occur in moments of deadly co-action between crisis, impulsive and inability to deal with stressful situations such as, financial difficulties , breakdown of relationships, chronic pain and illness. Other factors associated with suicidal behaviour include experiencing conflict and disasters, violence, abuse or loss.

The day is earmarked to raise awareness and mobilise efforts in support of mental health. It is also aimed at creating a platform for stakeholders working on mental health to discuss issues about their work and highlight what needs to be done to advance mental health Agenda globally.

Enefaa Bob-Manuel

Head Public Relations