A lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Lagos State University, Mr Benjamin Olabimitan, has disclosed that more depressed people have been seeking professional help in the wake of public outcry generated by the recent increase in suicide cases in Nigeria.
He made this known in an exclusive chat with Our Community Newspaper in his office on the university campus, Ojo on Tuesday, April 4.
Olabimitan said there has been an increase in the number of people visiting the department’s psychology laboratory to seek help for their psychological issues.
Earlier, the consultant psychologist said the major cause of suicide in the country is the inability of people to handle “pressure”, which creates an urge to end it all.
“There is no way you will look at suicide without looking at pressure. Something leads to suicide.
“And when we are talking about depression, it means the person is down and there are many things that can bring you down, make you unhappy in life.
“That is why when they bring people to our lab, the first thing we do is to know their problem, and we do this one scientifically.
“Through our interaction, we may know what the person is passing through and whatever you are passing through will determine the next action you are going to take in life.
“If a person is looking at his own problems like the only one having such problems in life, the person is likely to be down and when you are down, many thoughts will be coming to your mind.”
He said people in such situations may choose the suicide option if they do not get the right help.
Olabimitan revealed that when people come to the department’s lab for consultation, a technique called cognitive behavioural therapy is deployed to address the problem.
This, he said, is used to reprogramme the person’s thinking away from suicidal thoughts.
“We change the person’s thinking completely because those people that are going for suicide have analysed, itemised their problems and they believe that the only solution is to kill themselves.
“But if you change their thinking, the cognition, that that (suicide) is not the solution and give them a better option, suicide may be erased from their mind,” he said.
The lecturer, who also identified the present economic downturn in the country as a reason for increase in suicide cases, urged people to be contented with what they have and live within their means until the economy improves.
Olabimitan equally condemned the criminalisation of attempted murder in Nigerian status books, saying that perpetrators of attempted suicide deserve help rather than prosecution.
“Why the law may not be effective per se is that someone who wants to commit suicide, if he succeeds, you wouldn’t see him again to prosecute. You cannot try a dead person.
“Those people that want to do this thing (commit suicide) – at that extreme – they do not look at the law.
“It is just like Boko Haram members; they are not looking at the law or the implication of being caught.
“It is what they want to do that has caught their attention. The law is irrelevant to them at that stage.
“They don’t look at the law, so that is why the law may not be able to achieve its purpose on those areas because the essence of the law is to serve as deterrent.
“I read about a woman who attempted suicide recently because she was in debt. If you mention the law to such a person, she’ll just say, ‘let them come and put me in prison. After all, my creditors will not be able to collect the debt in prison.’”
Furthermore, he decried the mentality in the Nigeria society where men are seen as weak for talking about their problems, saying it was a major contributory factor to bottled-up emotions that lead to suicide.
He said, “Our culture is masculine-oriented. That is not only in Nigeria but also Africa.
“It is believed that a man, if he looks up to another person to solve his problems, is not man enough.”
Similarly, he said many people are wary of discussing their problems so as not to become a butt of jokes.
To solve this, the psychologist appealed to people suffering from depression to approach qualified psychologists as they will not divulge clients’ problems to anyone else.
Olabimitan stated, “When you approach a psychologist, there is ethics, just like in every profession.
“As a psychologist, if I have a client, I don’t have the right to disclose our discussion to another person, except if it is a family member that we think can help.
“There should be that privacy and confidentiality. It is one of the ethics of this profession.
“As a psychologist, it is your duty to counsel and recommend the appropriate treatment or therapy.”
The psychologist advised the public to share their problems with others as it is a good way of getting help but warned against disclosing their secrets to non-qualified persons.
Highlighting the dangers of sharing a problem with an unqualified person, Olabimitan said doing so could compound the problem.
He said, “I was just telling someone yesterday that one of my students had family issues and shared it with a friend, who is also a classmate.
“When they had a misunderstanding, it was the first thing that the lady used to insult her. The lady (victim) was weeping.
“So, that is the difference between an expert and a layman.
“If you are an expert and you do that, your license can be withdrawn.”
Safety Record Newspaper recalls that a 35-year-old medical doctor, Allwell Orji jumped into the Lagos Lagoon from the Third Mainland Bridge on March 20, 2017; a student of Ladoke Akintola University of Science and Technology, Adesoji Adediran hanged himself in his room on March 19, 2017; and a resident of Anambra, 38-year-old Mrs Lovina Odo hanged herself in her one-room apartment over her childlessness.
A 51-year-old textile dealer at popular Balogun Market in Lagos, Taiwo Titilayo-Momoh, is currently on trial at the Ebute Meta Chief Magistrate’s Court for attempted suicide over an N18.7 million debt.