There’s no sugar coating it: more than 700,000 people globally will die from suicide this year. Even more people will attempt to take their own lives.
Suicide, unsurprisingly, is endemic in poor countries. According to the World Health Organisation, 77 percent of global suicides happen in low-and middle-income countries. Studies have shown that depression and hopelessness are leading causes of suicide.
Suicide is often stigmatized in socially conservative societies like Nigeria. In fact, attempted suicide is a felony in Nigeria. Authorities and members of society often ignore its connection with mental health illness. Sometimes the mind is an exhausted vessel filled with inexplicable pain and suffering is often treated as a sign of weakness. Thus, making many unwilling to seek professional help.
But Nigeria is on the brink of a mental health crisis. The WHO estimates that one in every ten Nigerian lives with a mental illness. We would be wrong to view the brewing mental health crisis in the country as strictly a medical health issue. The crisis transcends that. Thus, it requires multi-prong solutions – the media, corporate Nigeria, politicians, charity organizations, and of course, the healthcare policymakers need to pay priority attention to mental health issues.
This is where our mental health programme, Mindspace, comes in. We discuss mental health, mental illness, good mental health habits, and the things that boggle the mind.
We talk to everyday people, mental health professionals and activists, and individuals. We want to create a space that demystifies mental illness and dismantles the stigma that surrounds it. Speaking to people about their experiences is vital to achieving this goal.
For instance, just over a year ago, we spoke to media entrepreneur Betty Irabor about her mental health journey, and how she is coping with depression.
That interview was eye-opening, Listen here: