A consultant psychiatrist, Professor Moses Audu says over a 10-year-period, suicide bombing and poisoning top the list of methods by which Nigerians had committed suicide as reported in the media.
Audu, a consultant psychiatrist at the University of Jos Teaching Hospital, who spoke at 2021 World Suicide Prevention Day webinar organised by “Suicide is no Solution”, Asido Foundation and other groups, stated that suicide was highest in North East, followed by South West, particularly Lagos, and North West.
According to him, the review of the 343 suicide cases reported in seven national dailies from 2010 to 2020, indicated that 70 per cent of people that commit suicide were men and through suicide bombing.
He declared: “Before 2010, reporting suicide was not much in the dailies, so we limit the study to 2010 to 2020. We found about 800 reports but the incidence that was reported was 343 cases. The highest reporting was suicide bombing, which most people reporting suicide don’t cover.
“Most of the suicide bombing occurred in the North East. While suicide bombing and hanging was the commonest method for men from the North East, for females, the commonest was poisoning.
“The trend was on the increase from 2010 to 2012, when there was a sharp rise in reportage of suicide. In fact, the highest was in 2012. Then it dipped again. It started to rise again gradually in 2016 and then came down in 2020. About 17 per cent of the cases were reported in 2012, and more than 50 per cent sensationalized it without suggesting what the victim should have done.”
Founder Asido Foundation, Dr Jibril Abdulmalik said mental health problems, especially depression may lead to an individual committing suicide even though depression is not always written on the forehead.
Abdulmalik, also a psychiatrist, declared that suicide is tragic and affects families and communities with 800,000 deaths from suicide occurring every year and one suicide death every 40 seconds globally.
He added, “we have 20 million people attempting their life every year and these figures are gross underestimates because we don’t have reliable statistics in Nigeria and most developing countries. So, it is a big public health problem and the key thing is that suicides are preventable.”
Dr Abdulmalik said that the media plays a critical role in preventing suicide as studies have shown that responsible reporting can reduce the rate of suicide in the nation.
According to him, for good reportage of suicide in the media, journalists should avoid sensationalizing suicide but to report it as a public health issue, use appropriate language, ask an expert to provide further details and always emphasis help and hope.
The psychiatrist stated that suicide prevention strategies are simple and so individuals contemplating suicide should seek professional because suicide is not a solution, but rather a waste of precious and irreplaceable human lives.
Chairperson, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists Oyo State, Mrs Jadesola Ajibola stated that taboos on suicide and stigma were challenges preventing reportage of suicide by journalists.
Mrs Ajibola, noting that media should ensure that their report does not further increase cases of suicide, however, urged the media to increase awareness on suicide and its prevention in the community.
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