APAS Canvasses National Summit on Suicide

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Kayode Fasua

The International Director of Africa Project Against Suicide (APAS), Pastor Honey Olawale, has called for an urgent national summit, to discuss the rising wave of suicide cases across the country.

Olawale’s APAS, which has just rounded off a one-year-long, continental campaign against suicide in Africa, said it was particularly pained at the resurgence of suicide cases in some Nigerian communities.

Only two weeks ago, a popular gospel singer, Michael Arowosaiye, hanged himself in Abuja, while in the same Abuja, another cleric from the Lord Chosen Church, also committed suicide.

The pastor had left behind a suicide note, complaining of some lingering financial difficulties. But in a statement yesterday, Olawale said, “A national emergency should be declared along this line.”

According to him, a concerted effort is needed to tackle this menace, noting that APAS has profiled that about 10 suicide cases were reported across the country within 72hours.

He said, “All hands must be on deck, as we discuss the way forward. We need the clerics, singers, politicians, civil servants and the general populace. You must be your neighbour’s keeper; always check on the people around you, send messages on social media and pay attention to what people write on the social media.”

Referring to the recent death of Arowosaiye, Olawale said it was one suicide “too many; if someone had paid attention, this would have not happened. Someone neglected his calls and even refused to read his chats when he needed help desperately, but after he committed suicide, that person started crying.

“As far as Africa Project Against Suicide is concerned, we have arranged a massive conference that will involve people from all walks of life; we will converge on the Cyprian Ekwensi centre for Arts and Culture, Abuja, on the 30th of July, to discuss an emergency national action against suicide. We are expecting singers, politicians, teachers etc.

“Whatever is learnt from this conference will go down to the states; we need everyone at this point, and we are also going to sponsor a bill on suicide very soon.”

Meanwhile, the APAS has said it will be convening African Educational and Leadership Summit programme across countries in the continent soon, describing it as the first of its kind.

The body in a statement said the summit is aimed at equipping educational leaders in the areas of leadership, administrative skills and other motivational methods, with a view to curtailing depression often induced by educational stress among students and their tutors.

The organisation recently held a training programme in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. A senator from the Kenyan Parliament, Silvia Kisinga, who attended the training, urged everyone to participate in the fight against suicide, the statement recalled.

The Eastern Africa coordinator, Mr. Daniel Madalanga, at the event, had urged the government to make a law in support of suicide prevention, while the Southern Africa coordinator, Ms. Reholegile Mehlape, expressed the belief that suicide rates can be reduced to the barest minimum, if campaigns against it are sustained.

The key speaker during the training, Mr. Jerry Vreeman, who is Director of Leadership in Obscurity Network, United States, emphasised the need for continuous training for African leaders, especially in the area of education. He said lack of constant training will always lead to trial and error.

Vreeman promised to support the work of APAS in Africa. Presently, in its campaigns against suicide, APAS has covered 10 African countries, namely, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Congo DR, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.