Although mental health awareness is slowly becoming a mainstay of contemporary media, historically, Nigerians saw depression as ‘White man sickness’ and believed their beer could cure everything.
Currently, one wonders how the Nigerian perception of mental health is with stats that rank Nigeria as a top five suicide prone country.
On July 29, 2018, Spectator Index published a World Health Organization research that ranked suicide per 100,000, per country.
Suicides per 100,000 people, per year.
S Korea: 24
South Africa: 12
— The Spectator Index (@spectatorindex) July 29, 2018
Nigeria placed fifth with 15,000 suicide in every 100,000 suicides.
The list was topped by South Korea with 24,000,000, followed by Russia with 18,000,000 then India with a rate of 16,000,000 and Japan placing 4th with 15,400,000.
The top completed by the US, France, South Africa, Australia and Canada.
Saudi Arabia placed 17th with a rate of 3,900.
Leading Factors for suicide
While other causes like terminal diseases can lead to resignation and then suicide, it is common knowledge that 90 percent of people who commit suicide suffer from mental illness.
Depression is a top risk factor. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are also risk factors.
A March 20, 2018 article by Luke Onyekakeyah for Guardian Nigeria states that “Nigerians have identified the five leading causes of death to include sickness (26%), poverty (24%), motor accident (16%), malnutrition (7%) and natural death (6%). Poverty and malnutrition go hand in hand and so should be lumped together to make 31%. In other words, going by this poll conducted by NOIPolls Limited, poverty in all its ramifications is the leading cause of death in Nigeria.”
In the article, Luke Onyekakeyah pegged the primary reason behind suicides as some kind of frustration, leading to depression.
Nigeria is a highly volatile country where hardships are a part of the everyday life. A significant number of Nigerians live below the minimum wage of N18,000,000.
Sadly, while hardships lead to depression, other subtle undiagnosed like chemical imbalance are also vehicles for depression. In any case, it all comes down to a lack of awareness.
Ignorance to the perils of depression might be a cause for lack of attention. If you don’t know what depression is and that you need help to treat or manage it, you see your suicidal thoughts as your only option.
While we salute those already educating people on mental health, we need more hands on deck; more educators on depression, especially in the hubs where people living below the minimum wage reside.
Please, check on your friends.
For anyone suffering from any mental illness, or has suicidal thoughts, please know that you are not alone.