SUICIDE IN THE POLICE

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The rising cases of suicide has become a national challenge

Worried by the increasing rate of suicide among its officers and men, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, has prescribed a closer relationship within the Force. “The IGP has asked us to now go close to our officers as well as the rank and file to know what their problems are because the level of suicide within the police is getting higher. Police officers are killing themselves without knowing what the problems are”, said the Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone 5, Abubakar Mohammed last week.

Although Mohammed gave no figure of the number of policemen affected in recent times, available reports indeed indicate that the number may be high. Just last month, an Assistant Commissioner of Police committed suicide in Benin, Edo State by shooting himself in the head with his service pistol at his residence. While we therefore commend the IGP for trying to find a solution to the problem, it is important for him to understand that it is not peculiar to the police, it is a national challenge.

As we highlighted in a recent editorial, there are many theories as to why some Nigerians now take their own lives. The nation’s present socio-economic environment could be a predisposing factor to depression and perhaps suicide. And since there is enormous emotional and financial stress as well as pervading poverty and hopelessness everywhere, there is also the need for the authorities to begin to examine some of the causes with a view to finding remedies for them.

According to some recent statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), no fewer than a million people die annually from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. Even more ominous is the fact that there are an estimated 10 to 20 million attempted suicides every year. What worries though is that our citizens have also joined the list. From jumping into the lagoon to hanging self with rope or electric cable, Nigeria is becoming a country where so many things that were in the past considered taboo now happen virtually every day—and these include the extreme act of deliberately taking one’s life.

Depression, according to experts, is the most common reason why people commit suicide though it would appear that neither the society nor the critical agencies of government are paying attention to this malaise. There are also other reasons why people take their own lives and devastate members of their family and friends with shock. According to Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia, underlying mental disorders such as schizophrenia, excessive alcoholism, drug abusive play significant role in triggering suicidal thoughts. Schizophrenia is a disease with a wide range of weird symptoms like hallucinations, inner voices, disordered thinking and irrational fears and “emotions that seem out of tune with reality”.

Today, the use of hard drugs – particularly Indian hemp, cocaine and even methamphetamine is commonplace in the society–drugs whose adverse effects range from depression to suicide. Indeed, manic depression, an emotional seesaw, oscillating between exhilarating highs and devastating lows, is cited as one the reasons why there are so many mad men and insanity out there in the streets.

However, breakthroughs in science and medicine have brought hope that many mental patients can lead normal and productive lives. So are suicide victims if help can reach them early enough. Depression, one of the main culprits of suicides is treatable. This is why we call on all authorities to take out for rehabilitation the mentally challenged who roam the streets. Public officials at all levels should also by way of good governance pay serious attention to the constraints that could trigger in the people suicidal thoughts.