August 10, 2022

Reporters’ Diary

Factual Reportage

Research shows 40% of calls relating to suicide come from youths – SURPIN

David Oladimeji

The Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN), a Non-for-Profit Organisation, says over 40 per cent of total calls it had received since its inception in 2017 came from younger people under age 30.

Its coordinator, Dr Raphael Ogbolu, disclosed this during online news conference on Wednesday night in Lagos.

The briefing was in commemoration of the World Suicide Prevention day marked annually on Sept. 10.

Ogbolu is also a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos.

He said that young people were quite prone to contemplate suicide based on the data provided, hence, the need to start engaging them at a very young age, before the age of 10.

According to him, the organisation has decided in its 2021 conference, holding Sept. 11, to focus on youths to create awareness among them so that they are mentally aware and become part of the conversation.

“The 2021 national conference with the theme: ‘The Youth: Connecting and Strengthening Future Mental Wellbeing’, keeps focus on young people.

“Also, the highlight of the conference, will be the finale of a national secondary schools’ debate where five finalist schools will debate the topic: ‘Can the mental health bill reduce suicide among young Nigerians?’.

“The five finalists’ debate entries will be played live on the day of the conference and based on scores from a panel of judges and online votes, 1st, 2nd and 3rd places will be awarded with prize monies N250,000, N150,000 and N100,000, respectively,” he said.

Ogbolu said that identifying key stakeholders was one of the main ways of addressing suicide, reason being that there was need for gatekeepers.

He said that gatekeepers were essential people in communities, who would serve as the “eyes” by identifying someone in the locality who might be suicidal.

“Key ways we thought of addressing suicide and still think is the way, is to engage religious leaders: religious leaders, because they are usually close to their communities.

“We have held two workshops: one in Lagos and the other one was in Ile-Ife for religious leaders; that will spread tentacles to grassroots.

“One other way of reaching people at all levels is also through the media and that is why we talk about collaborating with the media.

“In 2018, we held a workshop for the media and intend to have one in October 2021, because people listen to news, read newspapers expecting they get correct information regarding their mental health,” he said.

SURPIN has presence in over 34 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory.

SURPIN is engaged in various activities, including consistently recommending ways of creating awareness and promoting suicide prevention, like the use of drama during its 2020 national conference.