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Depression: Call for Orientation About Increase in Suicide among Nigerians

Last week, rapper N6 announced the death of his intern named Pelumi who is a budding broadcaster and had just finished her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

Oluwapelumi Orungbe, Radio Presenter, Commits Suicide

According to N6, she died by committing suicide for undisclosed reasons and another thing that struck me further is that she was described as cheerful and easy-going, like one without a problem in life. Basically, she has never showed any sign of depression until her death. Seeing that report and going through her social media pages sent shivers down my spine as I wondered how someone so young and promising will resort to taking her own life. I couldn’t help but wonder how long and hard she must have been battling this demon. This demon is depression, we must have all come across the saying “Depression is real” but some of us still regard it passively as one of those things but the truth is, it’s actually a plague we shouldn’t regard with levity as suicide most likely follows depression.

Some of us opine that Nigerians don’t undergo depression or even committed suicide but that’s unfortunately not the case, suicide is increasing in it’s numbers by the day and prioritizing mental health should become a thing in Nigeria. People are pressured to conceal, to never reveal whatever struggles they undergo. According to WHO suicide ranking, Nigeria, with 15.1 suicides per 100,000 population per year, is ranked the 30th most suicide-prone out of 183 nations in the world. Nigeria also rates 10th in Africa after countries with higher rates of suicide such as Togo (ranked 26th in the world), Burkina Faso (22nd), Cameroun (19th) Zimbabwe (16th), Central African Republic (13th), Sierra Leone (11th), Angola (9th), Equatorial Guinea (7th), and Cote D’Ívoire (5th).

Often times, people who commit suicide don’t want to die but want to end their pain. Do not dismiss their talk of suicide as just threat or bluff. As a victim of chronic depression, I had mentioned it to someone where it was joked with and nobody believed that I am depressed because I laugh at almost anything and don’t look like they’ll say ‘what you go through’. I want us to get oriented about mental health and the attention it needs. If you notice any signs in that regard, please do not dismiss it passively. Some people actually stress on death, they talk openly about wanting to die or commit suicide or dwell on the topic of death, you can’t tell if they go ahead to research ‘easy’ ways to kill themselves. Depression creeps in due to a lot of situations the victim is faced with, could be physical illness, loss of a loved one, financial crisis, abuse, career imbalance, breakup, bad grades and a host of likely causes. Depression could sometimes cause the victim to act recklessly, taking dangerous chances like having risky sex or driving drunk.

Depression is often a long and deep feeling of despondency and the sufferer shouldn’t be left alone as it’s life-threatening and suicide could be it’s possible outcome. Depressed people sometimes don’t feel they live up to their potential as they could be suffering social, financial or academic crisis. Some research also have it that depression could be common in individuals with close relatives that have been depressed. Mental health professionals who may be consulted are psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, physicians or religious leaders. Each of these professionals have their own expertise, views and approach to all sort of depression. It’s also very important to reach when it’s at an early stage before it gets intense. Some moderate depression could also respond to antidepressant medications which is often prescribed by a physician after thorough evaluation and effects occur within few weeks. Therapies like behavioural approach and attempt to change unhelpful mindset or addressing isolation by helping the person build interpersonal skill.

There are certain misconceptions about Suicide:

People who talk about it don’t do it:

Normally, threats shouldn’t be taken lightly and suicidal threats should be taken even more seriously. Truth is, few individuals are single-minded in their decision to kill themselves, many are asking for help even as they contemplate suicide.

People who really want to kill themselves are beyond help:

Fortunately, it’s not the case. The urge for suicide may be intense but short-lived. The majority of individuals who are suicidal recover and benefit from treatments.

Suicide is personal and selfish decision:

This is a misconception because suicide doesn’t just affect the victim, it affects others too.

We could always help by listening in a way that shows concern, empathy and we should be mindful of the kind of words we use in pacifying that person as they are often delicate and sensitive in that state.

This week, I read about about a guy who threw a party for his friends at his place then killed himself afterwards. It’s sad that he showed no sign of undergoing depression but another angle is, what if he did? There’s a lot of pressure on men to feign happiness and strength because showing your true feeling could deem you emasculated. A lot of men go through the worse but can never reveal for the fear of being ridiculed. Please, don’t beat yourself about what the society expects from you. You matter, you can  speak up. We should avoid pressuring men to always ‘man up’.


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