Suicide: Psychiatrist urges quick passage of mental health bill

Worried by increasing rate of suicides and attempted suicides, two psychiatrists have called on the senate to pass the Mental Health Bill into law to address mental disorders including depression.

Dr Moruf Mustapha and Dr Oluwadamilola Ajayi said in Lagos that a mental health law would go a long way to address the huge burden of mental disorders and prevent suicides in the country.

Mustapha and Ajayi jointly made the call in a statement they made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday.

The doctors made the call against the backdrop of the March 19 suicide by a medical doctor, Dr Allwell Orji, who jumped from the Third Mainland Bridge into the Lagos lagoon.

According to the doctors, mental health burdens are hidden and can culminate in suicide.

“Mental disorders remain hidden, and as a result, such disorders are not being diagnosed and treated.

“It is estimated that one in four individuals globally will go through a mental health challenge in their life time.

“One of the commonest mental disorders with significant morbidity and widespread notoriety is depression.

“Depression is not profound sadness; it is not just an inability to cope with life experiences; it is not caused by a character or personality flaw; it is not a moral failing, neither is it a spiritual affliction.

“It is an illness, a mental illness, that may end in mortality, possibly through suicide,“ the doctors stated.

They regretted that the Mental Health Bill had yet to be passed into law since 2008.

“The proposed Mental Health Bill has been bouncing back and forth between the legislative and executive arms of the Nigerian Government since 2008.

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