Group Seeks Decriminalisation of Suicide Attempts in Nigeria

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The Training Coordinator of Suicide Research Prevention Initiative, Ms. Titilayo Tade, says attempted suicide should be decriminalised to enable significant success in curbing the act in the country.

Tade told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Wednesday that criminalisation of attempted suicide or drug abuse had not discouraged the victims from attempting it.

According to her, it has rather worsened the trend.

The coordinator said that research had shown a strong link between suicide and mental illness.

She said that people who attempted suicide do not need punishment but require treatment, help as well as untainted access to care and support.

She said that the thoughts of suicide and involvement in drug abuse were often necessitated by some factors which included biological, economical, medical, social, genetic and psychological.

“When these occur, attention should be given to the families of the bereaved as well as identify and address the factor responsible for the suicide,’’ she said.

Tade pointed out that many years ago, attempted suicide was criminalised in Nigeria.

“Unfortunately, the available records reveal that criminalisation of attempted suicide has neither discouraged the victims from attempting it nor stopped the eventual commission of the act.

“The focus should be on how to address the causative factors that leads to the act and tackle the underlying mental health conditions.

“Attempted suicide is a serious problem requiring mental health interventions and it should be treated as such,” she said.

The SURPIN coordinator said that about 90 per cent of those who attempted to take their lives were known to have psychiatric problems.

“But out of the figure, 80 per cent are as a result of drug abuse, depression and other socio-economic conditions in the country,’’ she said.

The mental health advocate noted that other factors that contributed to suicide attempts included financial imbalance, life challenges, failing business, loss of loved ones and hardships.

She, therefore, urged government at all levels to be more proactive in addressing the nation’s economic challenges and also provide the basic things that made people discontented with life.

She called on the media to provide information that would keep hope alive for whoever that was passing through any challenge to curb suicide incidents.

She further identified education as a tool to curb the rising tides of suicide in Nigeria, noting that the World Health Organisation’s statistics showed that one million people died of suicide annually.

She lamented that suicide was highly underreported in Nigeria as many cases were being covered up and overlooked due to the stigmatisation attached to it in the society, particularly the criminalisation of the act.

NAN reports that SURPIN was founded by the Lagos University Teaching Hospital in 2017, for the purpose of suicide prevention through research, crisis intervention, health education and early treatment of depression and drug abuse, which are major risk factors for suicide.

 (NAN)

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