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Stop making attempted suicide a crime, psychiatrist tells FG



A Consultant Psychiatrist with the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital , Dr . Ayo Omotosho , has urged the Federal Government not to continue to criminalise attempted suicide , saying that it is usually caused by depression .
The psychiatrist made the appeal in an interview with newsmen on Monday in Ilorin ,

He said that depression was a mental illness and people suffering from it deserved sympathy from the government and members of the public , rather than condemnation .

He said : “ Depression is like any other illness . Depression is like every health condition . People suffering from it should not be put behind bars for attempting suicide . ”

Omotosho , who lectures in the Department of Behavioural Sciences , Faculty of Health Sciences , University of Ilorin , decried the alarming rate of suicides in the country .

He disclosed that about three million Nigerians are currently suffering from depression , while identifying sadness as one of its symptoms .

The don urged people around those experiencing depression to be supportive and to render help where necessary to prevent the victims from becoming suicidal .

“ The focus of depression is the behavioural aspect . Depression can lead to suicidal ideation and sometimes harming oneself. Depression can be said to be a fracture of the mind .

“ Those suffering from it have negative thoughts about themselves , the world around them and the future , because they have Depressive Cognition ; they think differently , ” he said .

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Omotosho identified three ways in which a person could be predisposed to depression to include biological , psychological and sociological factors .

“ The biological reasons include genetics . If someone ’ s parents were depressed , there is a higher chance that such a person at some point in his or her life will suffer depression .

“ Then there may be interaction with hard substances, which may lead to brain changes and which may predispose to mental health condition .

“ For the psychological factor , people who are pessimistic may be more prone to depression , so also those with low self esteem, ’’ he said .

According to the psychiatrist , the sociological factor is triggered by life events such as losing a job , and negative or bad experiences.

“ Significant things that happen to a person and he feels it is overwhelming and doesn ’ t talk about it may lead to depression , ” he added .

Omotosho called for responsible reporting of suicide cases by the media , advocating more awareness on prevention of depression .

He cautioned the media to avoid detailed and graphic reportage of suicide , saying it could lead to ‘ copycat suicide , ’ which may lead to an increase in the rate of the menace .

The psychiatrist said prevention was a major concern even among practitioners , saying that there were some things one could not prevent like the genes one was born with .

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He advised on healthy lifestyle and urged people to see their specialist to talk about their psychological issues .

According to him , there are some certain foods that have been identified to fight depression and are good for the mood like salmon ; those foods that contains vitamin D that triggers happy hormones in the brain .

“ I also encourage having regular exercise , sleep and eating good food , ’’ the don said .

Omotosho explained that there was a relationship between sleep and mood , adding that when one does not sleep well , one is prone to be cranky during the daytime .

( NAN )