Mental Health Expert Advocates For Suicide Prevention Hotlines In FCT

By: Prudence Okonna & Khadijat Kawunda

To reduce suicidal attempts and provide easy access to professional help, Mental Health Experts have called for the establishment of suicide prevention hotlines across communities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

A Consultant Psychiatrist from the Ministry of Health, Dr. Motunrayo Oyelohunnu made the appeal during a sensitization on suicide prevention and related effects for FCT staff, held at the Area Council Service Commission, Area 3 Garki, Abuja.

In a presentation on the situational approaches to suicide prevention, Dr. Oyelohunnu, revealed that not all suicides are tied to mental health issues but could be linked to social or situational distress risk factors such as unemployment, loss of relationship, Alcohol/drugs, conflict, financial difficulties, and insecurity among others.

She explained that suicide prevention can be classified into two major categories; the Individual level and the community/national level.

Dr. Oyelohunnu, therefore, called on the authorities to establish suicide prevention hotlines across communities that people can call when in distress, while encouraging people to develop their self-awareness to be able to identify early signs of suicides and seek professional help when thoughts of killing oneself arise.

In his opening remark, the Director, Public Health Department, Dr. Saddiq Abdurrahman said the reason for  sensitizing the workforce is because the information needed to reach the staff of the FCTA first as they should be first partakers.

While expanding on the theme of the event, “Creating hope through action”, the Director said it was vital to give hope to people around which will count a lot in their mental health balance and performance.

Dr. Abdurrahman explained that the programme hope to ensure the FCTA has a productive and healthy workforce before cascading the sensitization to other target populations most affected by mental health issues.

His words: “We realised we need to start from our domain, that is why we brought in the SDAs; that is the entire workforce of the FCT to attend this sensitization, in addition, we have planned outreach activities which involves going to the target population like schools.“

Also speaking at the sensitization workshop, Head of Environmental and Occupational health Division, Public Health Department, Dr. Olubunmi Adeyemi noted that it was imperative to organize the event owing to impact of COVID-19 Pandemic, post COVID-19 on the economic, psychosocial, and even relationships of people that gives rise to a lot of mental issues, particularly suicidal attempts or even suicides.

According to Dr. Adeyemi, there have been pockets of suicides recorded in the FCT Post Covid-19 pandemic, noting that suicide prevention awareness has not been created much, hence, the need for the sensitization.