World Health Day: Lagos laments rising cases of Suicide


Dr. Jide Idris

Dr. Jide Idris

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

As the world marks the World Health Day, the Lagos State Government has lamented rising cases of suicide in the state, saying that depression is the leading factor that triggers suicide.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Depression: Let’s Talk.”

At a news conference to mark the day on Friday, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris the growing cases of suicide in Lagos was worrisome and that efforts must be made to nip it in the bud.

“On the recent, growing awareness and worrisome suicide events that have occurred, the State Government considers it necessary to inform the populace about suicide and the common causes with depression being the first on the list. So, we must talk.

“Suicide is a major public health concern but preventable. It does not discriminate, thus affecting people of all ages, genders and ethnicity. Main risk factors include depression, other mental disorders including substance abuse disorder. Many suicides occur in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses such as financial problems, relationship breakup or chronic pain and illness.

“In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour. Suicide rates are also high amongst vulnerable groups who experience discrimination, such as refugees and migrants and prisoners. The strongest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.

“Suicide prevention efforts require coordination and collaboration among multiple sectors of the society including health, education, labor, justice, law, politics and the media. We have a lot of people suffering from these illnesses who are afraid to come out and talk about it because of stigmatization and discrimination. They are therefore not sure if they can get the help,” he said.

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Idris said the state government had come up with help lines – 08058820777 and 09030000741 – through which residents of the state could ask questions, make enquiries and sought help from professionals early enough to allow for appropriate intervention.

“I must stress that there are people available to help. So, “Let’s Talk” …if you are a student, “Let’s Talk”, if you are parent, “Let’s Talk”, You feel alone in the world,” Let’s Talk.” Please be assured that Lagos State is committed to ensure the Public Health safety of all its residents and we are working to ensure that we all live safe and healthy lives, as we chase our dreams and work towards self-actualization,” he added.

The commissioner also said depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.

“Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. More women are affected by depression than men.

“Depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life and can have devastating consequences for families, friends, communities and workplaces. In its most severe form, depression can lead to suicide. When mild, people can be treated without medicines but when depression is moderate or severe they may need medication and professional talking treatments.

“As evidenced by the recent disturbing news of suicide and suicidal attempts, a densely populated and metropolitan city- state like Lagos is not exempt from the challenges associated with increasing prevalence of depression and other mental health issues. The current recession even makes the experience in Nigeria a public health concern at a time when joblessness, homelessness, and hopelessness affect so many with the current economic downturn,” he stated.

On mental health, the commissioner said the ministry had established a Mental Health Advisory/Stakeholders’ Group to conduct a situation analysis, proffer innovative solutions and map out an implementation plan for reducing the burden of mental health problems in Lagos.

He said the group was made up of academics, policy makers, NGOs, researchers, clinicians and service users, with the department of Behavioural Medicine, LASUCOM forming the core of the think – tank team to bridge the gap between the town and the gown.