By Nicholas Dekera

NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: As the burden of suicide rise in Nigeria, young women have been fingered in most suicide committed. Professor Aishatu Yusha’u Armiya’u said that women suffer depression more than men. It is also a fact that depression is related to suicide

Speaking in an interview yesterday, Professor Aishatu Yusha’u who cited recent studies in Nigeria said 80 percent of suicide reports were by men. However when age was used younger women committed suicide more than men. Suicide at home, school and bridges were more common in women.

She said “there are gender differences in suicide rates. Financial constraints and marital conflicts were risk factors for females in recent studies. The risk factors for men are different. So in addressing suicide rates there is a need for gendered approach and intervention. It is not one size fits all.
In my considered opinion, I would still say more studies particularly government funded community based studies are needed to guide us in what would be appropriate and essential to do.”

Professor Aishatu insisted that suicide is not a normal for depression in Nigeria however pointed that “Mental illness is a risk factor for suicide. This is why attention to mental health across different settings including homes, neighborhoods, schools to mention a few is important in addressing the burden of suicide in our society.
It is a well known fact that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as abuse and neglect are risk factors for suicide. It is here we need to pay attention to parents, guardians and household members. They indeed play a significant role in reducing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that increase the risk of suicide and self-harming behaviors. Awareness and sensitization campaigns to these special population will help go a long way in curbing the menace of suicide.”

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According to her, involving schools where adolescents and youths spend significant part of their time is key. The recognition of the warning signs in the classroom and reaching students early can have a profound impact.
“Evidence shows that most effective suicide prevention takes place upstream which means starting with parents/neighbors followed by educators in the classroom. In schools there is a standard mental health clinician or mental health counselor to student ratio. This provision is lacking in some of our school policies. “

On the impact of religion on depression, Aishatu said studies conducted over time show that “the impact of religion on the likelihood of depression becomes reduced considerably when other factors are considered. In other words the impact cannot reflect that religion is panacea for depression. It has a role along with the need to see a mental health physician, use appropriate medications as well as talking therapies.”

“The burden of depression therefore cannot be removed by religious factor alone. This is in no way saying that religion is not working.
In fact I usually tell people that the relationship between religion and science is reflected in Barbour’s model which recognizes a continuum of conflict, independence, dialogue and integration. The useful dimension here is dialogue and integration where the attending health team involves religious practices in the dialogue and integrate them with scientific practices for a robust effect on recovery in a person who has depression.” She maintained.


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