Late Bola-Ige ‘s daughter, Ms. Funso Adegbola, Head of Department, Department for Clinical Psychology, Federal NPH, Yaba, Lagos, Mr. Tayo Ajirotutu, and United States-based Child, Adolescent & Adult Psychiatry, Dr. Stella Bassey-Okoronkwo, among others have said that more cases of suicide are recorded during COVID-19 saying that there should be a review of the law punishing those who attempt suicide. While they were calling for more understanding of mental illness in Nigeria, they revealed that people have to be educated in order to prevent suicide attempts, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, even as suicide events continue to increase daily.
They also urged the government at all levels to ensure that schools have at least one psychologist on their list to underline that the ideal should be the duo of psychologists and practitioners of mental health, adding that religious bodies must also establish a mental health unit with experts on mental health at their religious centers in order to reduce the suicide rates of the country. In the opening virtual meeting of the NGO Suicide Is No Answer, the theme is: Talking Suicide 1.0: Symptoms, Signs and Prevention at the weekend, specialists called for a reform of the legislation targeting suicidal people who emphasized the need for care and support instead of prosecutions. While maintaining that sufficient training for school and religious counselors should be offered for young people , particularly those with signs of depression that could lead to suicide. A lawyer founder and CEO, Ibadan Vale University, Ms. Funso Adegbola, argued that the section of law on the suicide attempt should be repealed, calling upon the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA and interest groups to join forces in making sure legislation is abolished. She said that persons attempting to commit suicide should go for psychiatric and non-prison rehabilitation, stressing that Nigerian psychiatrists should be treated because their services are important and psychiatric health practitioners should be less stigmatized. Also, Dr Tayo Ajirotutu, Department Head, Clinical Psychology Department, Federal Hospital for Neuro-psychiatrics, Yaba, Lagos, regretted that, while suicide has been occurring in Nigeria for decades, it increased during the current pandemic in COVID-19. Calling for more awareness and knowledge on suicide among Nigerians, the psychiatrist advised with the SINS program, persons with suicidal tendencies and symptoms are encouraged to seek expert assistance, calling for religious institutions and schools to train counselors to advise depression sufferers. “Suicide begins with thought and actions and is the second leading cause of death among young people in particular. The symptoms include either talk of killing yourself, feeling helpless, depression and rejection or no desire to live and low self-esteem. Financial factors, traumatic reasons, excessive pressure, relationships and education issues, insufficient expectations, problems in the job, in the home or religious organizations are other causes of suicide, “cautioned Ajirotutu that the problem of suicide can not be confidential, as family members and mental health practitioners must be involved. Dr. Stella Bassey-Okoronkwo, a United States-based child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist, called for more awareness of mental illness in Nigeria and said that suicides continued to increase particularly during COVID 19. Bassey-Okoronkwo emphasized that mental health knowledge needs the best guidance and referral to those with such an illness. She says, ‘People who deal with depression, substance dependence, alcohol use disorders and anxiety have a higher rate of suicide in the United States. We lose more than 800,000 people globally each year for suicide and we lose much more in the US during late spring and early summers.
“Bassey-Okoronkwo, who is the Medical Director, Center for Emotional Health, Christiansburg, Virginia, clarified that in individuals attempting to commit suicide signs of unrespectful feelings and behaviour, are more harmful and disrespectful A lawyer and founder and CEO, the Vale College of Ibadan, Ms. Funso Adegbola, argued that the law provision stipulating suicide attempt prosecutions should be withdrawn, calling on the Psychiatrists Association, health practitioners, the Nigeria Bar Association, the NBA, and groups of stakeholders to join together to ensure the revocation of the rule. She said that persons attempting to commit suicide should go for psychiatric and non-prison rehabilitation, stressing that Nigerian psychiatrists should be treated because their services are important and psychiatric health practitioners should be less stigmatized. The project leader from the SINS, Idy Toye-Arulogun, said that the meeting was designed to increase awareness of the situation and better understanding of the situation of suicide among Nigerians, with a view to minimizing and eliminating the incidence in the country. Although she shared her experience, Mrs. Ajoke Okonu, who considered suicide at 16, said she fought her thoughts when she was 4, but did not commit the crime because of the love of her parents, adding, “I wanted to live because my parent’s marriage had been broken. In her own submission, the co-founder, LePhare Consultants, Mrs Ibiyemi Faturoti, encouraged anyone who looks at suicide to realize that there is someone out there who cares and who is ready for assistance, adding that suicide should not be seen as a option. I was sexually assaulted, molested and when I couldn’t keep my knife in the kitchen, but my Mother’s love saved me.