A Professor of English at the University of Lagos, Prof Hope Eghagha, has made a passionate appeal for help for victims of depression across the nation.
Eghagha, a former Commissioner for Higher Education in Delta State, pleaded with Nigerians to stop stigmatisation of people displaying psychotic behaviour, which is mostly an effect of depression.
He said stigmatisation prevents depression sufferers from seeking much-needed attention, which in the extreme leads them to suicide.
Eghagha said, “Depression shows its terrible face in many ways, some nice some very unpleasant. That former pal who becomes belligerent towards you; or who switches between hostile and friendly actions; who talks to himself; may be undergoing deep psychological problems that they may even not be aware of. When you receive a jolting action from them you may wonder what the problem is. You may even wonder whether you inadvertently triggered that reaction. But no; they are the problem, not you. On the surface all may appear good and well and beautiful. Deep inside they may be lonely or frightened/
scared or worried sick – they are indeed crying inside their heart or spirit and need help; they could be very efficient at work or in anything that they do. They may even control everything about their lives. But deep inside they may be sick. Some snap in the end and do the terrible. WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF A DEEP MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS. BECAUSE IT CARRIES STIGMATIZATION IT IS NEVER OPENLY ACKNOWLEDGED. Save a soul today. Cry out if in distress to a psychologist, a true friend, a brother/ lsister, a true pastor or a listening total stranger. Nigerians seem to believe that psychiatrists are for ‘mad’ people. Anybody can and could see a psychiatrist if in crisis. And our folks should know that psychotic behaviour is not the result of a tabooed act which the victim committed before. Long focus or dwelling on guilt or inadequacy (na me be this? Na my life be this? Wetin i do?) could ruin the mind. But it is not ‘erivbin’ as the Urhobo describe it. The end result of untreated depression could be SUICIDE or other acts of self destruction. But SUICIDE IS NOT, SHOULD NOT BE AN OPTION. Save a soul! Save yourself! Save a friend!”
An investigation by Daily Trust found that 80 Nigerians committed suicide in 13 months, majority of which were caused by depression.