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Seven Million Nigerians Living With Depression – Medical Doctors

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Crowd of Nigerian Christian worshippers

The Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFPON) has said no fewer than seven million Nigerians are living with depression.
National President of the society, Dr Akin Moses, disclosed this on yesterday at a press conference to mark the 2017 World Family Doctors Day in Abuja.
Moses said based on research conducted by some physicians between 2015 and 2016, 29 million people in Africa were depressed while 322 million were affected with the condition globally.
He said the study showed that an estimated 788,000 suicide deaths worldwide occurred in 2015, while 10 suicide deaths per 100,000 population were recorded in Nigeria within the period.
According to him, there were a few unfortunate suicide deaths in Nigeria which were attributed to severe stressful life events.
He noted that depression played a role in more than half of all suicide attempts and up to 15 per cent of those that were depressed died by suicide. The physician said if not checked and treated, a depressed person has a 20 per cent chance of committing suicide.
The president of the society described depression as a common mental health problem that affects moods, resulting in a change in the way person feels, thinks and acts.
He said apart from stressful conditions, negative life events like bereavement, job loss, financial difficulty, divorce, loneliness, childhood abuse and neglect could also trigger depression.
Moses added that people with chronic pains and medical disorders; as well as patients on certain drugs and those abusing drugs like cocaine, amphetamine, narcotics and alcohol were all at risk.
He disclosed that a combination of medication and psychotherapy; as well as support and care from family members were appropriate treatment for depression.
According him, primary care physicians in the country will continue to create awareness to reduce negative perception and stigma.
He also pledged their readiness to recognise and support those at risk of developing depression.    (The Sun)

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JUST IN: Another Nigerian Man Jumped Into FESTAC Canal, Lagos

Dolapo-Badmos

Spokesperson for Lagos Police Command, Dolapo Badamos

Gbenga Adeniji

An unidentified man on Saturday morning jumped into a canal in the Festac area of Lagos State.

The incident drew many residents and passers-by to the scene as rescue workers tried to save him from drowning.

An eyewitness told SUNDAY PUNCH that the reason for the man’s action was unclear as he moved close to the Festac Link Bridge and dived in.

The eyewitness said, “Many local divers tried to save him.’’

It was not certain if his body was recovered as of the time of filing this report.

When contacted, the spokesperson for the police in Lagos, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said the command got a report of the incident.

He said, “I think it was a case of a man who fell into a canal. We are still trying to get more information on it.’’

He could not immediately confirm if the man was saved.   (Punchng.com)

 

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Nigeria Drops On World’s Happiest List, As Depression, Suicide, Violence Rise

In September 2016, Saturday PUNCH reported the onset of ’harvest of suicides’ in Nigeria, citing experts’ view on the psycho-social and economic downturn which have prepared the ground for such likelihood. In the sequel, KUNLE FALAYI writes on the World’s Happiness list and what it means for Nigeria

On Monday, March 20, 2017, as the world celebrated the International Day of Happiness, death, depression and economic hardship dominated social media discussions in Nigeria.

Many Nigerians were jolted awake by the apparent suicide of 35-year-old doctor, Allwell Orji, who was said to have stopped his car on the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos and jumped into the lagoon.

As search for his body continued in the lagoon, discussions on depression, its causes and results intensified, bringing to the fore a topic that has received little concern over the years.

The following tweets are just few of the thousands which joined the conversation in the wake of the Orji’s suicide action:

“There’s serious depression in Nigeria, two days ago, it was Third Mainland Bridge, now it’s Mile 2.  Please! Be on the watch for close ones.” – Iwuagwu Kelechi.

“Wow. The man who committed suicide on Third Mainland Bridge today was a medical doctor. Nigeria needs to pay more attention to depression.” – Isima Odeh.

“Depression is very real in Nigeria. ‘It is well’ does not make it go away. People are drowning in their own thoughts of power/helplessness.” – Olu Yomi Ososanya.

“We are finally waking up to the reality that depression is rising in Nigeria. It’s better for us.” – Oma Akatugba

 Just two years ago, in 2015, Nigeria was 78th happiest nation on the World Happiness Report. It was 4th in Africa but plummeted fast after that.

On Monday, as if reaffirming the atmosphere of depression, which Nigerians were talking about, the United Nations released its World Happiness Report for 2017, putting the country at number 95 behind African countries like Somalia (no. 93), Morocco (no. 84), Libya (no. 68), Mauritius (no. 64) and Algeria (no. 53).

Atmosphere of gloom

Despite the gloomy statistics over the general wellbeing of the citizens, Nigeria stands as the 26th largest economy in the world with a GDP of $415bn, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Yet, Forbes describes Nigeria as “the best of the worst”, ranking the country 20th out of the 20 saddest countries in the world.

To the outside world, all these are mere numbers. But to Nigerians, the reality presents itself in the rate of suicides, murders, violent attacks, kidnappings and general atmosphere of gloom.

On the streets, the situation is felt in more immediate terms like increasing rates of road rages, street fights and petty thefts.

All these are symptomatic of a failure of system, lack of psycho-social support system and economic stress, Consultant psychologist, Prof. Olanrewaju Adebayo, said.

The don said that as the ability of people to cope with these various “stressors” reduces, the negative reactions mentioned above become a reality.

In Nigeria, many socio-economic problems drive people to the edge.

On Monday, as Dr. Orji was jumping into the lagoon in an apparent suicide on the Third Mainland Bridge, another victim, a woman, identified as Emerald, was doing the same at another end of the lagoon in Maza-maza, several kilometres away.

Fortunately, the middle-aged woman, who was said to have climbed the rails of the Maza-maza bridge and made her jump, was spotted by passers-by, who immediately rescued her before she could drown.

Again, on Friday, news broke that another woman, Taiwo Momoh, had been rescued on the Third Mainland Bridge as she attempted to jump into the lagoon in a suicide attempt.

On Tuesday, during the search for the body of Dr. Orji, the marine command of the Nigeria Police found another body, which was initially mistaken for the body of the doctor.

Some said this could be another victim of suicide or one of the country’s senseless killings, even though the police said identification had not been made while cause of death is yet unknown.

The day before Dr. Orji’s suicide, a final year student of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Adesoji Adediran, hanged himself in his room.

Again, like most of the suicide cases reported in recent times, no one noticed he was suicidal. His roommates who were out studying overnight only returned the following morning to find his body dangling from the roof.

Exactly one month before the suicide of Dr. Orji, a young man climbed the Jakande pedestrian bridge in Lekki, Lagos, threatening to jump to his death.

For hours, residents and police pleaded with him before he was successfully talked down. It is unclear what happened to him thereafter.

These cases have re-focused attention on the issue of depression in Nigeria over the last few days.

In Nigeria, there is not accurate data on suicide as stakeholders believe that due to the stigma that comes with  suicide, many families never report it.

Unfortunately, there is little or no coordinated support for depression victims in Nigeria.

To address this issue, a Lagos-based documentary photographer, Oladimeji Coker, recently started a project that would help offer help offer a microcosm of communal support for depression victims.

On his website, he called for volunteers who could offer any form of support, be it in treatment or social support.

Coker explained that through his interaction with a medical professor, he learnt that  the loss of the social support offered by culture may lead to depression

He said, “The most important part of the African culture is the communal relationship. In the traditional Yoruba communities, one might be a stranger in a community but everybody would still try to offer their support to such person. That alone would have been away to fight depression in those days.

“I realised that a lot of people battling depression in Nigeria have been doing it on their own for too long. It may not work. Sadly if victims of depression are left to fight the battle on their own, we would continue to have more suicide. What this project is doing is to bring a community approach into the issue.”

Coker also explained that one of the problem the Nigerian government must address is the high cost of psychiatric treatments.

In a similar step, few days ago, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, initiated the Suicide Prevention Service Centre. The Coordinator of the centre, Dr. Raphael Ogbolu, said it has now become necessary to start the service immediate in the light of the increasing number of suicides in the country.

But Professor Olatunji Aina of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Lagos, said Nigerians must be mindful of the fact that depression is not the only cause of suicide.

According to him, suicide could be triggered by social and economic problems or even substance abuse.

Aina said, “But depression as we know it in the medical field is still the major cause of suicide even though it is not the only cause.

“Depression is one of the major psychiatric problems all over the world not just in Nigeria. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of morbidity.

“Because it is not scientifically documented in Nigeria does not mean it is not a major problem here already. From the time ab initio, there has been a problem describing what depression is.

“Virtually all the local languages in Africa do not have specific words for depression.”

According to the don, the lack of an ethnic distinction of depression is a major reason why the problem has never been taken seriously in this part of the world.

“Under-recognition of the problem is one of the reasons depression is a major issue in health care. When someone with depression comes to the hospital, sometimes, they don’t present the symptoms we see among whites. They present bodily symptoms that mask the actual symptoms of depression. It can only take an experienced doctor to make a right diagnosis,” he said.

For  Aina, suicide itself is not being treated like a problem that requires psycho-social support in the country.

He refers to the fact that Nigeria still treats attempted suicide as a criminal matter rather than a problem that requires a psychiatric help.

A country in ‘unofficial depression’

Beyond the medical understanding of depression, a sociologist, Dr. Jibril Adeniyi, explained that the increasing rates of social malaise in the country is enough to put the country in an “unofficial depression”.

According to him, it does not matter what the GDP says if the quality of life of a larger percentage of the people does not reflect the total monetary value of goods and services produced in the country.

To him, signs of the times like suicides, increasing murder cases, killings for ritual, violence/killings in family circles, sale of children, street violence, are to him enough reason to say Nigeria is in an “unofficial depression.” According to him, all these problems have a direct link to the economic downturn in the country.

Adeniyi said, “When there is economic downturn, systems fail and people become more concerned about self than others.

“This in turn has impacts on the lives of people who need psycho-social support. Then, suicide increases, people steal more and rob others. Families that cannot cope treat their children like animals and sometimes kill them out of anger. Husbands kill wives and vice versa.

“The social problems only need to be peeled back beyond the surface, and you would realise how they funnel down to the issue of economic hardship.

“Even though economists may not agree that Nigeria is in a depression yet,  how bad do things have to be before we know we have gone beyond recession?”

Negative behaviour in an ‘unhappy nation’

Since the publication of the first WHR in 2012, the UN said it has become evident that “happiness is less evident in Africa than in any other region of the world.”

In Nigeria, experts say the “unhappiness” is what manifests in negative behaviour such as murders, violence and socially repulsive actions.

In December, a housewife in Ikorodu area of Lagos, Christiana Odo, shocked her neighbours when she stabbed her husband, Rominus, to death for failing to provide money for the family during the Christmas celebration.

In February, it was the other way round, a mother of three, Sherifat Bello, was killed and dismembered by her 36-year-old husband, Sakiru, in Lagos.

Two weeks ago, a barman, Precious Victor, stabbed his employer while trying to extort N63,000 from his boss, Kayode Oso, an Information and Communications Technology consultant in Ikeja, Lagos.

Few months ago, a 63-year-old man, Korede Odubela, was arrested in Ogun State for killing his 16-year-old step-daughter, Amudat Oshimodi, and selling her head to his son, Seun, a herbalist, who allegedly paid N3,000 as first instalment.

Just a week ago, a Muslim cleric, Kazeem Alimson, was arrested at the White Sand area of Isheri-Oshun, Ejigbo, Lagos, for killing a three-year-old boy, Chiagozie Okereke.

After he was arrested, he made the shocking confession that he paid a teenager N500 to lure the toddler and killed the child with a heavy stone.

But some actions that have repulsed Nigerians in recent times are not only about deaths.

In December, a 25-year-old woman, Ali Odinaka, was arrested by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, in Ebonyi State for allegedly trying to sell her three children.

Odinaka, who hails from Ezilo, in Ishielu Local Government of Area of the state was reportedly arrested by the police after a tip-off from a waitress whom she had contacted to look for a trafficker who could buy her children.

Just a week ago, a 50-year-old grandmother, Rita Eze, who was a member of an inter-state child-snatching syndicate, was arrested.

She confessed that she abducted a three-year-old girl from Lagos and sold her in Anambra State so that she could use the proceeds to pay her rent.

All these have roots in the “darkness” of the present time, says, psychologist, Abbey Shobayo.

“At moments like this, it is not strange to have people shooting above their frustration limit by even taking to acts of violence. Without addressing the social factors responsible, it will be tough getting to the root of the rising cases of murders we have seen,” he said.

Apart from these violent and negative actions mentioned earlier, the “unhappiness” in the land manifests in more subtle ways. On the streets of Lagos for instance, road rages seem to be on the rise.

For instance, Mr. Victor Ajayi, an accountant with a Lagos State Government agency, shared his experience with a motorist.

He said, “Five days ago, I was about to make the turn from Agidingbi Road to Obafemi Awolowo Way towards Ikeja, when I overtook a car that was too slow for me.

“The young man in the vehicle sped till he caught up and blocked me. I was initially afraid that he was a robber but I realised he was angry because I overtook him.

“Before I could explain that I had a right to overtake so far as I did not do it dangerously, he did not listen. He kept screaming that he would slap me.

“I was so confused. I realised it was as if he was frustrated and just needed someone on whom to let loose. I quickly stopped arguing with him and simply kept quiet. He left and drove away when he realised I did not take him up. I have noticed this has become common in Lagos now. Tempers flare on the road at the slightest provocation.”

According to the Lagos Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Mr. Hyginus Omeje, managing road rages requires taking into cognisance that it is a psychological issue.

He said, “There is no special provision in managing the issues of road rage. What applies under normal enforcement is that a lot of psychology is needed in dealing with such person.

“If you speak with such person, he can even start removing his clothes or become physical when you try to impound his vehicle. Issuing a ticket would not even solve the problem. Dealing with people who exhibit road rage requires a lot of care.”

Do you know anyone who is exhibiting suicidal tendencies or showing signs of depression? Save a life today, call the Suicide Hotlines: +2348062106493, or +2348092106493

(Punchng.com)

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Two New Lagoon Suicides Averted In Lagos, Now Offence To Walk, Park Near Bridges

Kunle AKINRINADE 

Two fresh lagoon suicides averted in Lagos

 

•Police, fishermen rescue textile merchant duped N18.7m, another woman •It’s now an offence to walk or park cars on bridges-Lagos CP

Less than one week after a medical doctor, Allwell Orji, jumped into the lagoon in Lagos, operatives of the Lagos State Police Command and some fishermen yesterday averted two fresh lagoon suicide cases.

A woman, Abigael Ogunyinka, was rescued by fishermen in the early hours of yesterday in Lagos Lagoon, while another woman, Taiwo Titilayo Momoh, who also attempted to jump into the lagoon from the Third Mainland Bridge at about 11:25 am, was prevented from doing so by operatives of the Rapid Response Squad of the Lagos State Police Command.

According to the spokesman of Lagos State Police Command,  Olarinde Famous-Cole, Ogunyinka had attempted to jump into the lagoon at Ebute Ero before she was intercepted by vigilant fishermen.

‘’She explained that she was unable to repay a loan of N150,000 which she took from a microfinance bank and that the bank had been mounting serious pressure on her to defray the money, hence, she decided to take her own life by jumping into the lagoon.

‘’However, given the sensitive nature of the case, we shall investigate her statement and the alleged microfinance bank in order to establish the veracity of her comment.

On her part, Momoh, a 58-year-old textiles dealer on Lagos Island, had put off her shoes and was wrapping her dress around her body when men of RRS 226 intervened in the nick of time and prevented her from jumping into the water.

The woman, who lives in the Lekki area of Lagos, explained that she was pushed to committing suicide in order to put an end to her sleeplessness and shame caused by her indebtedness to three Swiss textile dealers.

She said that her problem started in 2015 when a forex dealer carted away the N18.7 million she wanted to change to pay her foreign creditors.

Her condition, she said, became compounded when robbers invaded her shop on Lagos Island and carted away her goods.

She disclosed that she was haunted at nights by the ‘ghosts’ of  her creditors whenever she was alone.

Momoh, a member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, expressed her frustration after she had made fruitless effort to share her plight with the pastor of her parish.

She noted that she was only allowed to see the pastor’s assistant.

She said: “Added to all this, my first son, who I thought would stand by me and console me, abandoned me. By the time I’m gone, maybe he would come around and inherit what is left.

‘’I don’t want to use my debt and death to disturb anybody. I was in the shop this morning. I have looked everywhere and estimated what is there.

‘’I think with my house, a bungalow, those I am leaving behind can still live comfortably. I want to go and meet God. This world is empty. I won’t because I want to get rich join a cult. I go my way and I don’t socialise unnecessarily.”

She added: “I was a Muslim. I have because of this problem been jumping from one faith to the other. The problem is too much for me to bear. I want to go back to God.

‘’That is why I have dressed very simply. I am ready to meet Him. If He cannot address my problem on earth, let me go back to Him.”

Speaking with newsmen at the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) headquarters in Alausa, Ikeja, Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, explained that Momoh was in a taxi heading towards Oworonshoki on Third Mainland Bridge when she told the taxi driver to stop on the bridge.

The woman, according to Owoseni, was about to jump into the water when a police team on a routine patrol on the Third Mainland Bridge sighted her and promptly saved her before she jumped into the lagoon.

“She attempted suicide by attempting to jump into the lagoon around Oworonshoki inward Mainland on Third Mainland Bridge. Unfortunately for her, she was rescued.

“The woman was in a taxi and alighted on the bridge and wanted to commit suicide by jumping into the lagoon.

“The police patrol team sighted her and rushed to rescue her before she jumped into the Lagoon,” he said.

Owoseni said his interactions with the woman revealed that she had depression as a result of unpaid loans, adding that “she is still insisting that she wants to end her life.”

He explained that committing suicide is an offence under the law but that the police would try to talk the woman out of committing suicide.

He said the police would do a medical evaluation on the woman to ascertain her condition.

He explained that the woman would be taken through post-trauma programme to restore her hope and prevent her from committing suicide.

Owoseni lamented the rate at which people commit suicide in the country, describing it as worrisome.

He disclosed that the police had begun patrol of bridges across the state to forestall other cases of suicide.

He also said it has become an offence for individuals to walk on bridges in the state and that no vehicle would be allowed to stop on any bridge in the state henceforth in order to prevent suicide incidents.

“Right now, the woman is still in trauma and she still insists that she wants to end her life,” he said.

The distraught woman, however, warned journalists from taking her photograph as she was being escorted from the RRS office into a waiting police vehicle, saying “I am not a criminal.”

Orji, a medical doctor attached to Papa Ajao branch of Mount Sinai Hospital, Lagos, jumped into the Lagos lagoon on the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos on Sunday in circumstances that remain puzzling.

He reportedly ordered his driver to stop at a point on the bridge after receiving a call on his cell phone and proceeded to take the bizarre action.

His body was found after three days of frantic search by a combined team of the Marine Police and officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA).             (The Nation)

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