“Media needs to create awareness on mental health”

A clarion call has gone to the media to partner with critical stakeholders in creating awareness about the geometric rise in suicide cases in Nigeria.

The International Advisory Council member, Africa Project Against Suicide, Adebayo Oguntayo made the appeal while speaking with journalists in Osogbo, the Osun State capital over the weekend on the campaign against suicide by his organisation.

He observed that there is the urgent need for collaborative action between the media, mental health practitioners, non-governmental organisations and the government at all levels to propagate ideas on prevention, coping mechanisms against depression and suicide in Nigeria.

Adebayo declared that the 2022 theme: “Suicide and The Media; Creating Hope Through Action” was timely because it focused on the need for urgent awareness given worrisome statistics on suicide in Nigeria and globally.

“Suicide occurs across across the world, but over three quarters of reported global suicide cases in 2019 occured in low and medium income countries like Nigeria.”

According to him, this year’s theme “is no doubt timely given the current global developments in the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic which has left many families devastated as a result of losing many loved ones, loss of jobs and incomes, global economic disruptions and the spread of poverty across the various regions of the world”, he noted.

Oguntayo reiterated the determination of Africa Project Against Suicide (APAS) to help inspire confidence and hope to those battling with depression and other mental issues.

To further underscore the urgency of the call for action, the mental health practitioner, regretted the quantum leap in depression and suicide cases in Nigeria.

“It is no longer deniable that we have a situation at hand that could snowball into a health ans social crisis. In Nigeria alone, suicide has increased triple fold among all age groups.

A recent study among secondary schools in one of the states in South East, Nigeria revealed that over 78 percent of the students are depressed with some of them having suicidal tendency as a result of low grades, relationship failures, poor health, poverty and other related issues.” He said.

He further revealed that his organisation, APAS, has taken up the challenge to commence an interface with critical stakeholders via a sustainable programme of action.

“As an organisation, we have come up with programmes of action on depression and suicide prevention awareness among secondary school students, parents, teachers, mental health practitioners, media and other stakeholders dealing with mental health issues to ensure people live above fear and inspire hope for a better tomorrow.” He stated.

Oguntayo urged the media to foster better understanding of the issues involved in depression and suicide through conversations that encourages people to share their stories.

” It is incumbent on the media, as a social service to society, to provide the platform for mass dissemination of information about mental health issues.

They should convey critical information that prevents stigmatization and help people who have come out depression or suicide attempt to tell their stories of breaking the yoke.

We need such stories of hope, healing and recovery from the brink among our people, communities and the responsible reporting of suicide cases.”, he stated.

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