The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), on Friday in Lokoja said over 90 per cent of suicide cases reported in the country were traceable to depression.
The Kogi Acting Chairman of NMA, Dr Godwin Tijani, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lokoja on the sidelines of this year’s “World Health Day.”
Tijani stated that this year’s theme: “Depression, let’s talk,” was chosen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to draw the world’s attention to the global burden of this common mental disorder
He commended the WHO for the initiative behind the theme, stressing that it would help to reduce incidence of suicide and attempt suicide in Nigeria and world as a whole.
He, therefore, called for urgent need for the government to create more awareness on how to discourage the trend, prevent and treat those affected by the mental health condition.
The chairman also urged government to reduce to the barest minimum the problem of stigma associated with depression. Also speaking, Dr Daniel Ajogbon , a Consultant Psychiatrist, Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Lokoja, said depression was the major cause of ill health and disability in the world.
He said nobody would want to come out in this part of the world to report being depressed, hence the need to encourage people to talk about their conditions and best ways they could be addressed by the society.
“The latest statistics from WHO says about 322 million people are depressed globally, and close to 30 million suffers depression in the African Region.
“It is against this backdrop we have to galvanise help, encourage people to talk about the way they feel, because to be depressed is not a crime.” He highlighted vulnerability, genetics, social, economic insolvency, unemployment and reliance on drugs as some of the factors that caused depression in the world.
The expert said symptoms such as sadness, weakness, loss of weight, and interest, thought of death, negative thoughts, that persist for weeks, were pointers to depression and such person should be encouraged to seek help on time.
“So, government must plan ahead by providing quick intervention when people intend to take their lives either in their homes or in public places. “The government should do more to get avenue for people to be educated, create awareness and make facilities available for people to get help they need on mental illness.
“The area of mental illness seems to have a little setback, as there is no health without mental health,” Ajogbon said. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the World Health Day is marked globally on April 7 of every year.