DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

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Nigerians need more jobs and better socioeconomic environment

Medical practitioners under the aegis of the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFPON) recently raised the alarm that seven million Nigerians were living with depression, a major risk factor for suicide. They also called for well-structured Primary Healthcare Centres that would help detect and treat depression early before the onset of suicide attempts. Given the growing incidence of suicide among Nigerians, the authorities must listen to these professionals on the need to find ways of dealing with depression before it triggers suicide in the patients.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are 322 million people living with depression in the world and Nigeria, with 15.1 cases of suicide per 100,000 population per year, is ranked the 30th most suicide-prone out of 183 nations in the world and ranked 10th among Africa countries. 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. Indeed, reports on suicide involving Nigerians have grimly moved from an occasional blip to a very disturbing trend.

There are many theories as to why some Nigerians now take their own lives. Indeed, the nation’s present socio-economic environment could be a predisposing factor to depression and perhaps suicide. There is enormous emotional and financial stress as well as pervading poverty and hopelessness everywhere. From the North to the South of the country, reported cases of suicide, not to mention the variety of those who use themselves as human bombs, are varied and now on the increase.

Even without any research to examine some of the causes with a view to finding remedies, the socio-political environment tells a compelling story of its own. The plight of the under-privileged is steadily worsening and many go to bed with less than a survival diet. The unemployment crisis has created a lost generation of graduates who cannot find jobs. Yet it is an established fact that impoverished individuals are a major risk group for depression. And depression, according to experts, is the most common reason why people commit suicide.

However, 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, and drug abuse 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 are 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. But it would appear that neither the society nor the critical agencies of government are paying attention to this malaise.

Fortunately, 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 many of our nationals suicidal thoughts.