Unnecessary deaths: Suicide hotlines to the rescue

With the recent wave of suicides in the country and around the world, it has become a global public health problem. Experts have linked the increase in suicide cases to mental health problems.

The World Mental Health Report published on June 17 shows that suicide accounts for more than one in 100 deaths and that 58% of suicides occur before the age of 50.

Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million, is one of the epicenters of suicides in the world with an estimate of 17.3 per 100,000, which is higher than global and African estimates, according to statistics from Almetric.com, a data science company that tracks where published research is cited online.

Based on this dangerous trend, the Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN) created a hotline to help reduce suicides and suicidal tendencies in the country. SURPIN is an initiative launched by the University Hospital of Lagos (LUTH).

It was created with the goal of preventing suicide through research, crisis intervention, health education, and early treatment for depression and substance abuse, which are the leading causes of suicide.

The centre, which is domiciled in LUTH, Idi Araba, is run by a team of professional psychiatrists and other support workers. SURPIN has created toll-free helplines that help people or their friends and loved ones who feel lost and alone and have suicidal tendencies and mental health issues, to call and talk about how they feel really.

Nationwide broadcast

According to Training Coordinator for SURPIN, Titi Tade, who is also a social worker at LUTH, said SURPIN, which has over 100 members as well as mental health experts spread across Nigeria in 35 states except of Jigawa State, established the helpline in 2017.

“The hotlines operate in three important languages ​​in Nigeria so that there is no barrier for callers as we try to fulfill the mandate of reducing the suicide rate in the country.

We recognize that there are not enough mental health experts in the country and although the initiative was originally called LUTH SURPIN, it has expanded beyond LUTH to become SURPIN all retaining LUTH as a member institution supporting the SURPIN program. We have our member institution in Jos, Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), which has also introduced the program to Hausa speakers and advisors,” she said.

Speaking further, Tade said that according to statistics, there had been an increase in calls from their receivers and advisers since the introduction of the toll-free number and since they had started advertising more in newspapers. , radio stations or television stations. “A lot of calls are coming in now,” she said. The social worker also referenced the #EndSARS period when there was distress and unrest in most parts of the country.

“Most people needed to talk to people at this time in order to relieve their pain and emotionally relieve them. For this they express their anxiety and seek advice. We were available and we received many calls “The hotlines are needed as there have been calls from people from different walks of life and even one of our youngest callers was a 12 year old who was suicidal and was able to get proper counseling and access help from professionals,” she emphasized why the helpline was important for the mental health of everyone in the country.

Misconception about mental health

She added that there are a lot of misconceptions about mental health, especially here in Nigeria, and the hotlines are meant to enable people to easily access health information and dispel misconceptions, because most people would like to talk to non-judgmental people. them, but freely give them professional help in an impartial voice. “Helplines have over 100 mental health experts across the country and are able to connect a caller to a medical expert, psychologist or even a social worker in the state they are calling from for access. to the health care services they need. The person gets what they need then and the first assessment is free, but then there would be a payment to get medication, but most importantly there is help in the first place,” she explained. SURPIN has accomplished a lot as one of the nation’s leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) over the past five years in mental health and suicide prevention. “As an NGO, we organize annual conferences on World Suicide Day with journalists, university authorities and their students, secondary schools and even religious leaders of different religions, because many people still meet them as their first point of call,” Tade added. She went on to say that it is the responsibility of journalists to report suicide news correctly so as not to encourage a copycat incident which is a World Health Organization (WHO) regulation to help reduce suicide rates in the country. She explained that the conference helps educate the public about mental health, especially young people, as many people do not believe that young people suffer from mental health issues. In addition, Tade reiterated that helplines will grow in the country and people are accepting it according to their internal statistics on incoming calls.

Adopt Helplines

In a New Telegraph home survey of people on the streets, it shows people are open to helplines and see them as a way to call for help first for themselves, their friends and their relatives. Data collected showed that eight out of 10 people said they would call for help while six out of 10 said they would rather talk to people they don’t know than those they don’t know. they know. Similarly, six in 10 also saw this as calling their customer service, but this time for mental health issues. Additionally, Tade continued that there are not enough mental health experts for the general public and this is a way for people to reach experts easily and freely. She added that it will only get bigger and better and encouraged well-meaning Nigerians to come together to work with SURPIN to fund the maintenance of the toll-free helplines so that they become a part of culture and not a myth in the near future.

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