Dr Chinomso Egemba, a global health advocate with Avon Medical Practice, identified depression as a major cause of suicide in Nigeria.
Egemba described depression as a medical condition, a psychological state of unhappiness or low morale, which could last for several weeks. It may include ideation of self-inflicted injury or in extreme cases, suicide.
According to Egemba, depression is usually caused by a decrease in the level of serotonin, a chemical in the brain, which serves as a contributor to feelings of wellbeing and happiness in human. She therefore advocated an increased awareness and education.
She said, “We have to call on the bodies responsible, which include the government, to increase the level of mental health awareness in Nigeria and set up toll-free lines and counselling centres across the nation so that people battling depression can call or visit for help.”
A public health advocate and digital media strategist, Dr Chioma Nwakanma, said common health problems such as depression and anxiety affected one in four people and it might not be easy to notice.
Nwakanma called for increased care from friends and family of susceptible persons who might be having depression or any other mental case.
“These are times to support each other and help those who are not coping well to get the needed help. Family members must be deliberate in monitoring one another, to pick up unusual behaviour or attitude, which may be signs of depression and quickly get them medical attention,” she stated.
A neuro-psychiatrist with the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Kaduna, Dr Tajudeen Abiola, advocated deliberate education and awareness programme to increase the level of understanding of what constitutes mental health issues.
“Everyone in the community can help prevent suicide risk by learning about the warning signs and how best to respond effectively,” Abiola said.