A staggering 800, 000 people commit suicide in Nigeria yearly, a professor of psychiatry, Joseph Adeyemi disclosed yesterday.
Adeyemi, who chaired a Lagos presentation of the book: Shadows in the mirror: the many faces of depression, written by Dr. Vivian Ikem said they commit suicide due to depression, yet policies on mental challenges remain archaic.
He said the Mental Health Act, enacted in the 1900s, was last reviewed in 1959 despite medical improvements made over the years.
“Our laws should keep up with current situations, but we have remained static, the way we were in 1959,” he said.
Adeyemi described the book as “spectacular”, praising the author for “coming to help” those in the field of psychiatry.
According to him, it is difficult to get depression patients to accept the fact of their illnesses.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by General Manager, Lagos Television, Deji Balogun, said the issue of mental health has not received the attention it deserves.
According to him, the symptoms of depression could easily be observed, yet people turn a blind eye to the plight of victims, with attendant costs on the economy.
National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu described the author as a woman of “excellent intellect” and “unmatchable lucidity.”
Represented by Mr. Sunday Dare, Tinubu said depression was a global problem, with 400 million people suffering from it, 12 per cent (48million) of which are Nigerians.
The former Lagos State governor said for the author, a Ph.D holder in Chemical Engineering, to write so convincingly about a field of medicine shows her “intellectual discipline, curiosity and intellectual responsibility.”
Recommending the book to everyone, he said: “We all have a role to play as family and as friends in helping those who suffer from depression.”
The author said she began writing the book in October 2013. She concluded it in January this year. Having suffered from depression, she felt she needed to help others.
“I am happy that life gave me lemons, but I’m able to make lemonade out of it,” she said.
According to her, many do not realise they are going through depression. She called for more sensitivity and compassion for depressed persons.
Reading from Page 146 of the 162-page book, she said: “I have a dream today! That one day, stigma against depression will be a thing of the past; that many will come to see depression not just as sadness but as a serious illness, and that lives will be made fuller through quality care and accessible treatments.
“I have a dream today! That one day communities worldwide, big and small, will know that depression is widespread; that the issue of mental health will be on the lips of the young and old; and that governments and other organisations will put more funds aside for depression and mental health research in general.
“I have a dream today! That one day more objective methods of diagnosing depression will be developed; that screening tests for depression in men and women will be made available; and that preventive measures will be widely implemented and practiced…”
Among guests at the event were renowned essayist Prof Adebayo Williams, former Commissioner in Lagos Engr Dapo Ashafa and Dr Femi Hamsat; wife of late politician Engr Funso Williams, Hilda; and General Overseer of the Redeemed Evangelical Mission, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, represented by Rev Akintola Oni.