“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”
September is the National Suicide Prevention Month in the USA. The suicide prevention month is an annual month-long campaign with an aim to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and warning signs of suicide. While there is presently no equivalent of such in Nigeria, this is as good as any time to talk about suicide and how it can be prevented.
For a country whose unofficial anthem is “I can’t kill myself,” people across the land are killing themselves. According to a WHO report, one in eight Nigerians are suffering from some sort of mental illness, and fewer than 10% of mentally ill Nigerians have access to the care they need, and the country currently ranks 15th in the worldwide suicide frequency rate.
So, what are ways you can help curb the high rate of suicide?
Professional help: If you are battling with suicidal thoughts or know anyone who is, kindly call the Nigerian suicide prevention initiative counselling centre on this hotline: 08062106493 (I called briefly to confirm the number and it’s functional) If you need a hotline that is specific to an issue such as domestic abuse and violence, Kindly click here for more numbers. All calls are confidential If you need the helplines of other African countries, kindly click here on the Joy website.
Be kind: Stressful, unexpected, and negative life events such as the death of a loved one, being diagnosed with a chronic illness, divorce, financial problems, job loss, and family conflict can trigger suicidal thoughts. Often times, the person having these thoughts might not be vocal about them. H Jackson Brown was right when he said ‘Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something.’ How about you practice a little kindness today?
Listen: If a friend, loved one, or even a stranger is bold enough to confide in you about their suicidal thoughts, kindly listen. Give them the freedom to express their feelings and listen with empathy, interest, patience and understanding. Be supportive and non-judgmental while letting them know suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse, suicide eliminates the possibility of it ever getting better. Refer them to a professional (see number 1) and also remove access to any lethal means of self-harm such as guns, rat poison, sniper, pills, alcohol, drugs or rope.