Collapse of extended family system causes suicide


By Dennis Agbo, Enugu

Enugu Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Medical Director Dr Monday Igwe identified the collapse of the age-old practice of the extended family system in Africa as part of the cause of the recent resurgence of suicides.

World Mental Health Day

Igwe, however, identified other causes of suicide, including education problems, high unemployment rate, with a lot of financial stress and a burden on the family.

“People who cannot solve their day-to-day life problems will fall into depression and eventually end their own life.”

The psychiatric chief made the identifications when the hospital celebrated World Mental Health Day 2019 with the theme “Mental health promotion and suicide prevention,” in Enugu on Thursday.

Igwe said suicide was a global problem, very common in Nigeria, whose statistics show that every 40 seconds someone dies by suicide and around the world, around 800,000 people die from suicide each year.

He said: “We are worried because suicide is a preventable problem. If we talk about it, if we tell people that they can be helped, we will go a long way in preventing suicide.

The causes are multifactorial, but it is noted that they are common in people aged 15 to 29 and is the second leading cause of death among them. The causes focus on people who are depressed. When someone is depressed, they feel hopeless and worthless.

“His mood is so bad that he feels like he has no reason to revive and that depression can come from people who are having problems in life; either in social activities, educational challenges, financial issues, even at home.

People who kill themselves in universities mainly focus on failing exams which is a waste in their life, so they are not able to cut and they have no one to lean on. They internalize their problems and feel that they are the cause of their own problem and that the only solution is to end their life.

“Another cause is the level of unemployment, with a lot of financial stress and burden on the family. People who cannot solve their day to day life problem will fall into depression and eventually end their life. “

He further revealed that around 10 to 15 percent of the population suffered from depression at any point in their life, nothing depressed people would tell anyone they were depressed.

“It’s the people around them who can notice that they have withdrawn socially; that they no longer carry on with their daily activities; that they are in a bad mood and therefore it is our duty to bring them to us (psychiatrists) for treatment.

“We give them medication, psychological treatment, we also expose them to rehabilitation and we have social workers who can go the extra mile outside of the hospital to resolve their problems if they are at home. Government and families have roles to play, and those of us in mental health have roles to play.

“Previously, we practiced the extended family system and people were keepers of their brothers. Then when we had a problem, others were there to help, but because of the gradual disintegration of the extended family system, people are now left to fend for themselves and that’s a big deal. challenge when they have overwhelming stress that they can’t contain.

“It is therefore a duty that is not left to anyone in particular, it is up to the family, to the church, to the government. Policymakers should also develop policies that will enable people to be employed, to engage and to leave a useful life, ”Igwe said.

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