By Justin Tyopuusu.
The daily pressure on parents and guardians to solve family problems and the general challenges that life presents as well as increasing cases of terror and other related killings have again more than ever before thrown many in a state of trauma and mental illness with devastating result of suicide or attempted suicide around the world, recent studies have shown.
Just this February, we were faced with one of the shocking events when a medical doctor jumped into the lagoon at the Third Mainland bridge in Lagos taking his life in the process. This was followed by another case of two women who also attempted to jump into the lagoon, but were rescue by the police.
These incidents go to show that there are many other cases of suicide in the villages and in private homes which go unreported. The economic recession facing the nation with resultant effects in the high cost of living with many families unable to cope might be one of the stressors pushing people to take their lives.
Unconfirmed report obtained at the Trauma Centre of the National Hospital Abuja has it that 17 cases of successful suicide were recorded within Abuja and its environs between January and March this year. This figure anywhere in the world is very high and worrisome said a staff of the trauma centre who preferred anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the issue.
Studies by the Lux Terra Leadership Foundation, Villa Nova Estate Abuja through her institute; The Psycho Spiritual Institute in Kenya have shown that stress which is the state of an individual when demands are made on him or her characterized by disruption, disorganization and threat to ones health is a major cause of trauma and post trauma stress disorder (PTSD).
According to the study, trauma which is a painful event which overwhelms an individual or group coping mechanism-which not resolved through series of interventions settles into the body leaving the person with a feeling of hopeless and helplessness and gradually upset the normal functions of the mind is one of the major causes of suicide.
In our country Nigeria, the indices or events that put people or group of people into serious trauma state are too many. These challenges couple with the hard times families have to pass through to even put food on their tables, experts said, have lessen the life expectancy of many Nigerians.
For instance, the Boko Haram attacks in the northeastern part of the country and the herdsmen invasion of farming communities in the middle belt have forced millions to live in Internally Displaced People’s camps with pains running through their minds daily.
This is even as children in these places are growing up with fester wounds of pains having watched their parents and relations guned down and the places they once called home destroyed following Boko Haram or herdsmen attacks in their communities.
The Southeast and South South are grasping with the issue of armed robbery and kidnappings, while ritual killings and kidnappings are thriving in the southwest as well as rape, armed robbery attacks, motor accidents as a result of bad roads, sudden loss of loved ones among others, plaguing the entire country.
“If not that Nigerians have developed resilience in coping with these challenges, cases of suicide would have been high more than what we have in the country today,” said Dr. Pius Ali, a clinical psychologist.
Perturbed by these growing negativity on the psyche of the nation, The Lux Terra Leadership Foundation, through her institute, “The Psycho-Spiritual Institute” led by Rev. Fr. George Ehusani and Rev. Fr. Dominic Adeiza began a basic training course in Psycho trauma healing to help address the menace.
“The social dislocations in the northeast and general psycho-social needs in Nigeria are the basic reasons why we embark on this programme,” Rev. Fr. Dominic Adeiza, director training, Psycho Spiritual Institute, said this in an email to this reporter from Abuja.
According to him, The Lux Terra Leadership foundation in 2016 began Trauma Healing course with 40 participants who had three contact sessions and in turn trained 240 participants in their respective areas.
Adeiza added that following the success story recorded in the 2016 course, the foundation decided to train three sets of 35 participants each and have successfully trained two sets so far drawn from States in Northern Nigeria because of the severe social dislocation facing the region and the need to urgently address the problems.
Already a team of counsellors and other social workers who participated in the Lux Terra Leadership Foundation Trauma Healing course are stepping down what they learnt from the institute in their various States especially in Adamawa, Borno, Taraba, Yobe, Niger and the Federal Capital Territory.
In Adamawa, Taraba, Borno and Yobe States, the trained counsellors are now working hard to heal the mental and psychological pains of the IDPs and engaging the children in practical psychological exercises to take their minds off the horror experience they were subjected to following attacks on their villages and the need to forgive the perpetrators and move on.
Chief David Gbaa Tella (The Tiv central leader) in Bali Local Government Area of Taraba State told this reporter that the visit of the counsellors in his domain has help a lot in giving hope to victims of herdsmen attacks who have hitherto lost hope and have nobody to share their pains with.
“My worry however is that why should it have to be somebody from far away Abuja to see the importance of sending people to come and talk to these people. I think our Government at various levels have to be more proactive in dealing with these social issues.
“Food and shelter are not just enough to heal the wounds of insurgency, herdsmen attacks and other social ills facing the nation. We need more investment in this area. Nigerian Psychological Association should be fully engaged to help heal these broken wounds our country is suffering from,” he said.
Mr. Charles Bijimi of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan in Kaduna State and one of the participants of the Trauma Healing Course in a chat with Nigerian Pilot hailed the move by the Lux Terra Leadership Foundation to address the social dislocation facing the nation.
“Nigeria as country need the services of these counsellors and clinical psychologists now than ever before because of numerous security challenges and the economic hardship facing the country. This is obvious in the rate of suicidal cases and deaths being recorded in our country today.
“This therefore calls for a full scale intervention to check this ugly trend. In the interim, families, religious centres and schools should form social support groups and monitor the activities of their members such as withdrawal, depression, fear and anxiety among others to help reduce cases of suicide and related deaths in the country,” he appealed.
Hence individual threshold and resilience in dealing with stress and traumatic events varies, experts want the media to as a matter of urgency begin the campaign to educate the people on the need to regularly visit a counsellor and psychologist to help them bounce back after stressful and traumatic events which have become a daily occurrence in our society.
Parents, guardians and other family members must play a significant role in making the family a source of support and hope for individuals. Once people are confident that their case is not beyond redemption, suicidal thoughts and deaths would be greatly reduced.