Lagos state government pledges to stem suicide attempts, launches helplines

The Lagos State Government has expressed concern on the growing incidences of suicide attempts and as such has promised to educate members of the public on suicide and common causes with a view to stemming the spate of suicides and suicidal attempts recorded in the State in the past few weeks.

The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, made this known at a press briefing on mental health to commemorate the year 2017 World Health Day with the theme “Depression: Let’s Talk”.

Idris stated that suicide could be committed by people of all ages and listed its common causes as inability to deal with life stresses such as financial problems, relationship breakup, chronic pain and illness, adding that individuals experiencing conflicts, disaster, violence, abuse or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour.

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The Commissioner noted that suicide rates are also high amongst vulnerable groups who experience discrimination such as refugees, migrants and prisoners, just as he said that depression tops the list of common causes of suicides.

According to him, depression is a common mental disorder, characterised by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness and poor concentration.

“Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression which is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease,” he said.

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While saying that more women are affected by depression than men, the Commissioner posited that depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life and can have devastating consequences for families, friends, communities and workplaces.

He stressed the need for coordination and collaboration amongst various sectors of the society including health, education, labour, justice, law, politics and the media, explaining that people suffering from depression need support to be courageous, come out to talk about it and shun the fear of stigmatisation and discrimination.

He disclosed that the State Government has set up helplines – 08058820777 and 09030000741 – through which residents can ask questions, make inquiries and seek help from professionals early enough to allow for appropriate intervention.
“I must stress that there are people available to help. So, “Let’s Talk” …if you are a student, “Let’s Talk”, if you are a parent, “Let’s Talk”, “If you feel alone in the world, Let’s Talk,” he stated.

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Also present at the press briefing were the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr Modele Osunkiyesi; Permanent Secretary, Primary Health Care Board, Dr Atinuke Onayiga; Permanent Secretary, Health Service Commission, Dr Jemilade Longe and Professor Abiodun Adewuya of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) amongst others.

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