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Suicide rate in Nigeria: The dark side of progress

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In the last decade, Nigeria has experienced much progress in its social landscape, however, suicide has emerged as an alarming consequence of modernisation. Despite the positive outlook on life by Nigerians, suicide rates are still on the increase.

The World Health Organization reports that suicide is now the leading cause of death among young adults in Nigeria with the numbers soaring among men than women.
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The prevalence of mental illnesses such as depression and the pressure to succeed in school, career and relationships are some of the factors driving Nigerians to take their own lives.

This article takes a closer look at the growing suicide rate in Nigeria, its causes, and what can be done to reverse this disturbing trend.

The South West region is the most developed part of the country, it recorded the highest suicide rate among the six geopolitical zones. Suicide rates are observed to vary by culture across the world, with Nigeria not being an exception, the rat race culture and high maintenance lifestyle in the southwest, particularly Lagos may have contributed to the spate of suicide.

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Geo-Political zones

Geographically, more suicide cases were reported amongst women living in urban areas, this may mean more affluent women are depressed or unsatisfied with their lives. Men in the semi-urban area may be under too much pressure to meet the demand of being providers.
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On the social ladder, the bourgeoisie have a towering figure among both genders. The middle-income group may have it really hard in the harsh economy that Nigeria has been facing in the last decade.
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There are a number of risk factors associated with suicide in Nigeria, these include mental illness, financial constraints, and marital issues among others. There are other risk factors that were unknown for reported deaths but according to the WHO, more than 90% of people who commit suicide have a mental disorder including people who have substance use disorder.

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Risk factors

The WHO reports that the rate of suicide is highest among young people aged 15 to 29 years, this is not far-fetched in Nigeria as students have the highest suicide rate among other occupations.

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Occupation

In the marital strata, more married men reportedly committed suicide, this could be based on the pressure men are faced with to be providers in an economic downturn in Nigeria. On the other hand, unmarried women have a higher suicide rate which may be attributed to the social pressure of being married before age 30.
This brings to mind the story of a 45-year-old woman, an accountant in Lagos who allegedly committed suicide because she was single and lonely.

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Marital Status

What Can Be Done?
Suicide is preventable, and efforts to reduce suicide have shown great promise. Recognizing the warning signs of someone who may be at risk of suicide can save lives. There are several red flags to look out for, including feelings of hopelessness, a desire to end one’s life, increased anxiety, restlessness, sleeping too little or too much, increased use of alcohol or drugs, talking about death or suicide, withdrawing from friends and family, and suddenly finding happiness in things that used to bore them. If a friend or loved one is showing these signs, it is important to take them seriously.

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, it is important to know that there are people who can help. There are many options for suicide prevention, including psychotherapy and medication, as well as support groups for survivors of suicide loss and people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

Suicide is a complex issue that can only be fully understood through a thorough investigation into its underlying causes. The best way to prevent suicide is to understand its risk factors and warning signs and to know how to help people who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts. As Nigeria continues to progress and prosper, it is important to keep an eye on all the dark corners, lest we miss the signs of distress in a society battered by the pains and uncertainties of modernity.

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