By Asmau Ahmad
A Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Olugbenga Owoeye, says early recognition of people predisposed to suicide can reduce its incidence. Owoeye, who is also a Consultant at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatry Hospital, Yaba, identified people who were alcoholic and those with chronic illnesses as among those requiring early and prompt medical attention. He spoke in an interview with the news men in Lagos on Wednesday.
“There is what we call primary prevention. Primary prevention is educating people about suicide. We need to create awareness about this condition.
“ Let people be equipped with necessary information about risk factors that can make somebody commit suicide.
“And not that alone, let people be aware of what are the things that causes suicide so that they can avoid it.
“Those who are into alcoholism are more likely to commit suicide, those who have disease condition who do not know how to go about the treatment, can commit suicide.
“And once we recognize somebody who has done it, maybe somebody who has slashed his wrist or somebody who swallowed some sleeping pills to commit suicide.
“Then, there is need for the family members of those concerned to bring the person for treatment.
“So, early recognition and prompt treatment is one of the ways to reduce the incidence of suicide in the society. “
He said that suicide was common in Nigeria, but the prevalence could not be determined as the country did not have a national study that showed the rate. According to him, the country’s culture and beliefs tend to encourage concealing cases of suicide from the public domain due to taboo associated with it.
“The suicide rate, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is between 7.1 and 33. 4 per cent.
“But in Nigeria, there is no study to show that this is the prevalence of suicide, so it is quite difficult to give an estimate oncerning Nigeria.
“However, there are some pockets of study in the past concerning suicide and that this has been a very long and old study.
“And the reason may be that, because of our culture and our belief, most people who experience suicide or most families where there is suicide, they tend to conceal it.
“Because, it is a taboo for somebody to take his or her life.
“So, in Nigeria, we may not have a figure, but people may likely report that it is very low in Nigeria whereas, our culture tend to encourage concealing the information from the public domain. “
The doctor said that some of the causes and risk factors of suicide include genetics, gender, age, being single, unemployed and major life challenges.
”There are some mental conditions associated with suicide including depression, which is the commonest associated with it.
“Also, alcoholism, drug use, schizophrenia, and personality problems can predispose people to committing suicide.
“A male is more likely to commit suicide than females, but in attempted suicide, a female is more likely. “