The President of Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), Dr. Lateef Sheikh, has said that creating an enabling environment for mental well-being and prevention through legislation, could be a solution to suicide.
Sheikh who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the “National Conference on Suicide Prevention” on Tuesday in Lagos, therefore called for review of the nation’s Criminal Laws to decriminalise suicide and attempted suicide.
He noted that suicide is the second leading cause of deaths among 15 to 29 years old people, adding that global age-standardised suicide rate was at 11.4 per 100,000 people.
According to him, “Creating an enabling environment for suicide prevention in Nigeria through legislation requires urgent overhaul of our criminal legal system that will decriminalise suicide and attempted suicide.
“Passage of the Mental Health Bill before the National Assembly will promote mental wellbeing, prevent mental illness and ensure access to treatment of mental disorder.”
Sheikh who is also the Chairman of Faculty of Psychiatry, West African College of Physicians, said that the determinants of suicide were level of mental wellbeing, mental disorders (untreated), depression, psychotic disorder and substance abuse.
He said that mental health legislation applies to the assessment, treatment, care and support of people experiencing mental disorder.
The association president said that there were 10 basic principles of mental health law.
He listed them to include: promotion of mental health, prevention of mental disorders, access to basic mental health care, mental health assessments in accordance with Internationally acceptable principles.
Sheikh said others were provision of the Least Restrictive Type of mental health care, self-determination, right to be assisted in the exercise of self-determination, availability of review procedure, Automatic Periodical Review Mechanism, Qualified Decision-Maker and Respect of the Rule of Law.
Sheikh said that one million deaths were recorded worldwide annually, and for every death by suicide, 20-25 more have attempted it.
He said that the rate in Nigeria was put at 9.5 per cent per 100,000 people.