Psychiatrists attribute rise in suicides to socioeconomic issues


Renowned Psychiatrists have blamed the increasing rate of suicide attempts by Nigerians on social problems such as economic hardship, violence, poverty and indiscriminate use of drugs among others.

They also identified the high cost of treatment as a major impediment to accessing mental health services in the country.

Speaking during an event organised by The Retreat Healthcare, Ikorodu, Lagos to mark this year’s World Mental Health Day with the theme: “Mental Health is a Universal Human Right”, the Chief Executive Officer of the Hospital, Dr Olufemi Oluwatayo urged the Federal government to come up with strategies that will prevent people from having access to materials that could enable them to carry out the ugly act.

According to the UK-based Consultant Psychiatrist, the media also has a role to play by being mindful of their report, especially in describing how these unfortunate incidents happened.

“Today, there has been an increase in violence, insecurity, use of drugs and economic hardship.  These things contribute to the cases you are seeing today.

“There is a need for Nigeria to come up with policies to stop easy access to materials like chemicals. These bridges need to be manned.  People have easy access to the third Mainland Bridge for instance.

“Whatever is the cause of the mental illness can be treated. Nigerians need to maintain their hope and work with the government, there is a lot of negativity that can affect people’s psyche. Let us keep our hope alive and prevent violence, be our brother’s keeper, and look after each other.”

Oluwatayo who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Retreat Hospital, lamented that many Nigerians cannot access mental health services due to the high cost of care, adding that, patients pay exorbitantly to access care.

His words: “High cost of care is keeping the disadvantaged and vulnerable away from health facilities.  The provision of mental health services was still grossly inadequate in Nigeria.”

He said though a lot had improved over the years, the country was still a long way from where it should be in the provision of mental health services.

The consultant said it was a good thing that almost all Federal and State Teaching Hospitals as well as Federal Medical Centres have the functional departments of psychiatry.

The consultant said it was also good that several General Hospitals and private hospitals now provide mental health services.

He said that he was aware that a lot of efforts were being made to integrate mental health services into Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in the country.

He described the development as significant progress, saying it would boost the provision of mental health services and broaden access to care.

Speaking, renowned Psychiatrist, Dr. Femi Olugbile advised Nigerians to pay attention to their mental health as “everyone is vulnerable”.

Olugbile who expressed gratitude for the passage of the mental health bill into law after several years of the country operating with Lunacy law said it was time for the full implementation of the law.

“In passing the Mental Health Bill, there is a message of recognition, beyond the messaging, though it is important to pass the law, we are grateful for it and the country jumped several generations of mental health legislation review.  But beyond making the law, we should take action.

He said the theme of this year’s Mental Health Day, brought out the entitlement aspect of it,  it is necessary to make provisions for access to care.

Provisions should be made in the health insurance to take care of the entitlement aspect.

He further stated that it was important for employers to promote and ensure the mental wellness of their employees, adding that, paying attention to employees’ mental health was important for the health of organisations and the safety of the work environment.