NGO worries over possible increase in suicide-related calls as economy fully reopens

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By Esenvosa Izah 08055618807
Lagos, Sept. 5, 2020 An NGO, Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN), has raised concerns over a possible increase in phone calls relating to suicide after full reopening of the nation’s economy as people return to school and begin to face the financial impact of COVID-19.

The National Coordinator, SURPIN, Dr Raphael Ogbolu, expressed the worry in an e-news conference via Zoom held on Saturday in Lagos.

The conference was to herald the commemoration of the World Suicide Prevention Day marked annually on Sept. 10.

SURPIN is an initiative of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), inaugurated in 2017 for suicide prevention through research, crisis intervention, health education and early treatment of depression and drug abuse.

Ogbolu said: “This year, Nigeria has been plagued by COVID-19 just like other countries around the world and the attendant uncertainty, disruption of previously normal ways of living have tasked the resilience of a lot of people.

“This has exposed many people to several factors that contribute to suicide by compromising mental wellbeing.

“We have already seen the impact of this in our hotline calls whereby in the month of May, we received about the most calls since inception in 2017.

“These were most likely as a result of the lockdown and restrictions; we consider this a first wave of increased calls.

“We are concerned that there may be a second wave after full reopening of the economy, as people return to school and begin to face the financial impact of COVID-19, especially such things as bad loans with debtors calling and relationship conflicts, among other things.”

Ogbolu, who is also a Consultant Psychiatrist at LUTH, said therefore, that SURPIN planned to step up collaboration with relevant government agencies to address issues surrounding suicide prevention.

According to him, SURPIN will be organising an e-conference on Sept. 12 where invited guests who have national carriage will discuss issues surrounding suicide.

“In our own way, we are trying to collaborate with as many agencies as possible.

“We have approached the International Directorate of Employment, and has support from the Lagos State Ministry of Social Welfare.

“We are hoping to build on these collaborations so that we are ready to help those who will be in that position as things begin to reopen, ” the coordinator said.

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