I attended a public lecture on the topic of suicide. It was an interactive discussion that was held at Neem Foundation. The speaker was a Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr. Adebimpe Alder. This post is about what I learned from the lecture.
First, I want to start off with my little message to those of you who might be suffering on the inside and considering suicide.
My Message to You If You’re Thinking About Suicide
I’m not a doctor or a mental health expert. I have never attempted suicide but I have gone through life challenges because I’m human. I have faced depression. I know what it feels like to think you’re alone and you don’t matter. I know what it feels like to see your life as hopeless. That your life isn’t moving forward. Things get difficult and it takes a toll on you BUT please know that you are not alone. Someone understands you. You matter. You are valued. You are loved by those around you. Please don’t be afraid to admit how you feel to those you are close to. Please don’t be afraid to get professional help. Whatever it is that you are seeking but lacking, you are deserving of it so do not give up on yourself. Please do not give up on your life.
Facts On Suicide in Nigeria as provided by Dr. Alder
In the WHO 2015 suicide ranking, Nigeria recorded 15.1 suicides per 100,000 population per year. We are ranked the 30th most suicide-prone out of 183 nations in the world and 10th in Africa.
The Nigerian federal law criminalizes non-fatal suicidal behavior. According to the country’s penal code, “any person who attempts to kill himself is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for one year.”
Nearly four times as many males commit suicide as compared to females
Females are more likely to have suicidal thoughts
The Myths about Suicide
Photo by Kate Williams on Unsplash
When someone is suicidal, they will remain so: This is not true because often, with the proper treatment and care, the person can get better.
Talking about suicide is a bad idea because it can be seen as encouragement: Talking about suicide matters because the person needs someone to speak to. There needs to be an awareness so that they know how to get themselves to a better state.
Only people with mental disorders are suicidal: This is not true. You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental disorder to become suicidal. Often times, it is the environment, circumstances, and conditions that determine this.
Most suicides happen without warning signs: We talked at length in the lecture on this. People who want to commit suicide give signs. Sometimes they isolate themselves and their mood shows their dissatisfaction with their lives.
Someone who is suicidal is determined to die: People who commit suicide might not be seeking death but an end to a situation, a pain they feel, the circumstances that they find themselves in.
Some Misconceptions about People who are Suicidal
Photo by whoislimos on Unsplash
Some MISCONCEPTIONS about people who are suicidal include……
They are ungrateful
They are lazy
They are attention seeking
They are Insane
People who commit suicide are unwilling to seek help
Talking about suicide may give someone the idea to do it
If someone is going to kill themselves, nothing will stop them, so it is best not to get in their way
Symptoms to be aware of IN someone that is suicidal
Photo by Sam Burriss on Unsplash
They become withdrawn: They begin to avoid friends and family and lose interest in social activities.
Focus on death: Some people will openly talk about wanting to die. They may begin to research how to kill themselves
Swings in mood or sleep: They may sleep a lot more or less than usual
Drinks or takes drugs: They may be using a lot of drugs or alcohol to dull the pain or harm themselves
Acts Recklessly: They may engage in risky behavior like driving drunk or having unprotected sex with multiple partners
How To Help Someone Contemplating and Attempting Suicide
Dr. Alder emphasized on the ALGEE approach to help someone considering suicide.
A: Access the risk or harm
L: Listen non-judgementally
G: Give reassurance
E: Exchange Self-help strategies
E: Encourage professional help
When it comes to helping someone who is considering suicide, it was emphasized that you listen non-judgmentally. This means that you suppress as much need to be biased. You are attentive to what the person is saying and you show that with your body language. Also, you ask open-ended questions like, how, what, when, where, who and tell me about it, etc
Self- Help Strategies for Dealing with Suicidal Thoughts
Photo by Drew Roberts on Unsplash
Encourage the person to take things minute by minute
Calling/Speaking with a trusted individual
Engaging in meditation/prayer
Developing a safety/crisis plan
Distract oneself by taking baths, steady breathing, going outside and focusing on senses
Challenge your thoughts
Develop a suicide safety plan
Once again, the lecture I attended was at Neem Foundation.
The psychiatrist and speaker Dr. Alder is from the Melville Healthcare Center in Gwarinpa, Abuja. To find more information on the Melville Center as well as information on suicide prevention, check out their site >> www.melvillehealthcareresources.com
If you want to learn more about mental health and tips on how to live well, check out Mentally Aware.
Have you or someone you know ever contemplated suicide? What do you think about the way suicide and other mental health issues are addressed? Let me know what you think in a comment.