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Effective interventions to prevent and mitigate the rate of suicide in Nigeria

Effective interventions to prevent and mitigate the rate of suicide in Nigeria

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Having discussed extensively on the factors that cause and or aggravate the issue of suicide in Nigeria, all of the previous explanations about suicide will be less meaningful and useful if we do not make practical recommendations to cleanse the society of this pandemic mental disease. This article addresses interventions that help to mitigate the root factors and the therapeutic measures to alleviate the symptoms and associated behavioural problem, including social problems.

We must, however, note that prevention is always better than cure. Resistance always surfaces when mental dysfunctions are to be treated. This consequently makes it difficult to alleviate the dysfunctions. It is, therefore, vital to identify and consider the risk factors in order to provide precautions and intervention to thwart escalation. Victims of this problem and people who are generally predisposed to suicide must gain insight into their psychological deficits through strong advocacy and awareness. Also, they must be willing to receive treatment. This is often a controversy and challenge faced by mental health care professionals.

To prevent and mitigate suicide rate in Nigeria, the following should be considered and implemented:

The foremost suicide-prevention telephone hotlines were developed in the western world, United States, for example. Listening ears were promptly and adequately provided to callers who were in intense mental distress. These individuals are then directed to appropriate persons or facilities where they can receive an effective intervention.

Although these hotlines provide a valuable service to people in crisis, research shows that hotlines help only those that put a call through, which requires a lot of courage and resilience. Empirically proven also is that young women call more frequently more than men do, meanwhile report has shown that men have a higher risk of suicide. We could then say that men reach the point of committing suicide because they refused to seek help, probably for fear of appearing weak which is unexpected of them by society.

Nigeria needs to adopt this strategy by setting up and publicizing an effective program that provides intervention when there is a case of an emergency.

Schools should have suicide-prevention programs that train students, teachers, and school staff to recognize warning signs and tell them where to refer students at risk of suicide.

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Another prevention method involves restricting access to means of killing oneself. Barriers that prevent people from jumping off bridges, for example, and restrictions on access to firearms have shown some effectiveness in reducing suicides. Such methods introduce a delay during which suicidal feelings and decisions may change, or rescuers can physically intervene. For instance, in Nigeria, access to snipers and the likes need to be mitigated. Although this has its advantage, but without addressing the root problems, people can still devise means to carry out the suicidal act. People need to be enlightened on the use of social media and the possible painful consequences of the whole process. Such vicarious learning would discourage people from committing suicide.

Because depression and personality disorder precede most suicides, early recognition of these symptoms and treatment through medication and psychotherapy are important ways of preventing suicide. In general, suicide prevention efforts aim to identify people with the highest risk of suicide and to intervene before these individuals become suicidal. It is important to strongly create awareness and sensitize people about mental health and the deficiency and also encourage them to go for therapy.

Group therapy can be organized for people who are exposed to risk factors. Just as medical outreaches entail, psychological need to be organized where a set of people are assessed and recommended for appropriate interventions. With adequate awareness and insight, mental impairment will be healed at the rudimentary stage before it escalates.

Coping skills need to be taught during the course of these programs. Parents and caregivers need to be sensitized on human psychological functioning to guide them on effective ways to nurture their children to develop the abilities and skills necessary to cope with life stressors. Also, they should be taught to regulate and improve their functioning (and overall wellbeing), build healthy relationships and to become the best versions of themselves that make a significant impact on people around them. Such sensitization should be incorporated in the ante-natal and postnatal programs.

Mental health advocates and professionals need to be supported by providing adequate resources needed to motivate them to function optimally and effect significant social changes beneficial to the wellbeing of Nigerians. Strong support will enable advocates and professionals to reach a larger crowd and to provide quality services that will facilitate improvement in people’s overall wellbeing and relationships with others. Research institute needs to be invested in to encourage investigations about problems and phenomena to provide understanding and solutions to problems as well as to improve situations and functioning.

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We are social beings who are constantly influenced by our immediate networks. Once a larger percentage of these networks are unhealthy then there is a high possibility of faulty system thinking to reflect, which consequently incite mental impairment and related problems in the society. When people are psychologically fit, many of the issues (crimes, poverty, weak government, corrupt leaders) in Nigeria will be mitigated because behaviours become adaptive, lifestyles are healthy, actions are productive, and relationships are constructive too.

It is also vital that mental health professionals are involved in policymaking and important decision making on the affairs of the country. This will provide effective means to make people more productive which will facilitate sustainable development of the country. Key components that determine the functioning of society are human behaviours (influenced by mental processes) and group dynamics that define relationships. Experts of these subject matters must actively participate in the decision making of the national affairs. Policies that support their services must be created. Such policies include the presence of mental health professionals in all institutions that constitute human operations, especially hospitals, schools, industries, agencies, other government sectors and offices. In fact, leaders need to be assessed before they are allowed to contest for a position. Relevant assessment and intervention tools must be present in these areas to enable effective operation and quality services.

Effective Partnership is highly required. Psychologists and other relevant professionals need to collaborate to make the necessary plans fruitful and beneficial to all.

Nigeria seems to address her issues superficially until the root problems are thwarted considering the recommendation in this article and other related suggestions, there will be no significant sustainable development in the dear country.

Further thoughts

Suicide in Nigeria is majorly caused by the interplay of impaired conditioning and socialization, cognitive distortion, deficient executive control system, lack of coping skills (ignorance), brain defects and genetic dispositions triggered by stressful life events such as trauma (maladaptive family system, abuses, socio-economic problems).

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Nigeria has a problematic interpersonal system which predisposes a large number of people to mental disorder. The socio-cultural influences and learning processes are ambiguous, obsolete and faulty. Many parents and caregivers are apparently victims of PTSD themselves or a large number of them are clueless about the effective way to nurture a child, because they have no idea how the mind works and that children internalize every experience that come their way. Learning process and our interaction with others play critical role in forming our relatively stable thought, emotional and behavioral pattern that determine our lifestyles, decisions we make and the consecutive experiences that manifest in our lives.

Youths need to develop and learn coping skills that will enable them to adapt to the environment, different circumstances and people. Young Nigerians need to be brought up in ways that strongly focus on improving their cognition, effective value system and understand that problems will inevitably surface, and it is their responsibility to seek healthy and effective means to resolve them.

The belief system that emphasizes conventions and collective livelihood needs to be ameliorated, the individual nature of every child must be focused on and developed. Nigerians must be brought up to take responsibility and clearly understand that consequences exist for every thought pattern and action that they exhibit. It is in their best interest; to promote their wellbeing and productivity if they act in ways that facilitate their personal development and which are beneficial to the society or people around.

The Government needs to invest more in health sector focusing on both mental and physical health. Policies must be created and implemented to support mental health professionals and render their services purely valuable and functional for the common good of all. Mental Health Professionals need to be more vibrant in creating awareness and enlightening youths and especially parents on effective ways to raise a successful child (leader). Medical practitioners and mental health professionals must work together to improve the overall health of people. This will affect significant socio-economic development in the country. The recommendation needs to be considered and implemented to improve the quality of lives (and functioning) of the people.

Rukayyah Abdulrahman

Rukayyah Abdulrahman

I am motivated by activities that involve solving problems that relate to human functioning, I love to learn, I am open minded and I love to explore.View Author posts

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