Suicide And Suicidal Behaviors

Category: Abuse, Disease, Suicide
Last Updated: 07 Jul 2021
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Suicide is a major cause of mortality worldwide. It is a human calamity that accounts for an estimated one million deceases yearly. This translates to at least one decease ensuing from self-destruction every 40 seconds. The magnitude of the job is farther compounded by the fact that the incidence of attempted self-destruction is about 25 times more than that of completed self-destruction. Every act of suicide impacts on at least six other persons. Suicide rates have increased by approximately 60 % over the last 45 old ages, therefore representing a major public wellness load. These rates are grossly underreported globally and many developing states, including Nigeria, do non hold meaningful records of deceases and their causes. There is dearth of information as respects the incidence of self-destruction and self-destructive behavior in Nigeria, with the exclusion of a few recent surveies. A systematic online reappraisal of published literature on self-destruction and self-destructive behavior in Nigeria was conducted and relevant articles reviewed. This article chronicles the development of research on self-destruction and self-destructive behavior in Nigeria, from isolated studies in the 1960s to more recent, large-scale epidemiological studies in the last decennary. It farther high spots the demand for an efficient system of wellness records with efficient certification of deceases and their causes, and a alteration in the state 's statute law with regard to suicide and suicidal behaviors.


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Dr. J. O. Abdulmalik Consultant Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.

Dr. O.O. Ayinde, Senior Registrar, Department of Psychiatry, University College Hospital, Ibadan.

Alabi Omolabake Oluwadamilola Concluding Year Medical Student, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.

Alabi Adeleke Ifeoluwa, Concluding Year Medical Student, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.


Mental, neurological and substance usage upsets make a significant part to the planetary load of disease ( GBD ) , which is estimated with the disability-adjusted life old ages ( DALY ) metric, assigned to each disease/disorder. The DALY is the amount of two composite steps: the old ages lived with disablement ( YLD ) and the old ages of life lost ( YLL ) due to a specified disease within the entire population. Suicide accounted for 1.8 % of the entire disease load as at 1998, but is projected to lift to 2.4 % by the twelvemonth 2020.  Mental and behavioral upsets are common, and will impact one in every four individuals at some clip during their lives.

The World Health Organization ( WHO ) defines suicide as 'the act of killing oneself, intentionally initiated and performed by the individual concerned in the full cognition or outlook of its fatal result ' . While several definitions exist, suicide merely means the knowing act of stoping one 's ain life.

Suicide is the 3rd prima cause of decease among immature people, aged 15 to 44 old ages, and ranks second for striplings between ages 15 and 19 old ages old. These studies have prompted the WHO to go smartly involved in runing to convey the public wellness load and impact of self-destruction to the attending of authoritiess, policymakers and the populace through the bite and airing of statistics, and the development of preventative plans.

It is estimated that globally, about one million deceases occur from self-destruction every twelvemonth ; which approximately translates to one self-destruction decease every 40 seconds. The incidence of attempted self-destruction is 25 times more common than completed self-destruction. It is besides the most of import cause of violent decease worldwide, accounting for 49 % of all instances. Other major subscribers to violent deceases worldwide include homicide ( 32 % ) ; with struggles and wars doing up the staying 19 % . It should be borne in head that the act of perpetrating self-destruction, is neither a disease nor a pathological status ; but mental upsets are often found to be associated with it, particularly depression.

Beyond numbering the Numberss of self-destruction and suicidal efforts nevertheless, is the frequently undiscovered psychological load from feelings of guilt, sorrow and torment, which is frequently experienced by the household members and close associates of persons who commit self-destruction. Every act of self-destruction, affects averagely six other people, at the really minimal. This impact becomes amplified, when a self-destruction occurs in a public state of affairs, such as in a school or work environment.

Non-fatal suicidal ideas and behaviors normally precede successful suicide Acts of the Apostless and should be seen as of import calls for aid and intercession, when they occur. They may be classified into three class:

Suicidal ideation, which refers to ideas of prosecuting in behaviour, aimed at stoping one 's life.

Suicidal program, which refers to the preparation of a specific method and readyings towards stoping his ain life.

Suicidal effort, which refers to engagement in potentially self-injurious behavior with some grade of uttered purpose to decease.


The undermentioned factors have been found to be associated with self-destruction.

Sociable: These include factors such as the absence of meaningful household ties or societal interactions which could ensue in egocentric self-destruction. Alienation or a interruption in the relationship between an person and the society due to societal or economic diverseness may ensue in alienated self-destruction ; while inordinate integrating and submergence into a given society may take to selfless self-destruction, supposedly for the greater good of that society.

Psychological: This includes aggression and ill will turned inward against the ego, as stated by Sigmund Freud ; overpowering feelings of hopelessness as suggested by Aaron Beck ; and cognitive bottleneck of picks as observed by Edward Scheidman among persons with self-destructive inclinations.

Biological: Self-destructive behaviors have been linked with lessened degrees of 5-hydroxytryptamine in the cardinal nervous system. Post mortem findings besides indicate low degrees of 5-hydroxytryptamine and some non-specific alterations in the noradrenergic system of self-destruction victims.

Familial: Suicidal behaviours may run in households. A positive household history of self-destruction increases the hazard both for attempted and completed self-destruction.

Medical: Chronic and enfeebling physical unwellnes may increase the hazard for self-destruction. Mental upsets besides belong to this class and represent the most of import associated factors in self-destruction. Examples include depression ( associated with over 90 % of instances ) , intoxicant maltreatment, personality upsets, and schizophrenic disorder.

Completed self-destruction is more common in males ; nevertheless suicide efforts and consider self-harm ( DSH ) are commoner among females and include Acts of the Apostles of toxic condition, cutting, and firing. Suicide is barely of all time the effect of a individual ground, but may instead result as a consequence of a multiple factors moving in concert to convey about such an act. These hazard factors have been classified into single, socio-cultural and situational factors, as depicted in Table 1.

Global situation and trends

Suicide rates have increased by 60 % worldwide, in the last 45 old ages, with an estimated planetary incidence rate of 16 per 100,000.  This tendency is happening despite the betterments in the acknowledgment and direction of depression and other mental upsets, and the increased handiness of newer medicines with better and more tolerable side effects.

The incidence of self-destruction is normally reported as a rate per 100,000 on a state footing. States such as Sri Lanka, Lithuania, Russia and Belarus which record 30 or more deceases per 100,000 are classified as high rate states. States with Numbers running from 10 to 29 per 100,000 such as Japan, Hungary, and China have in-between rates ; while those states with fewer than 10 suicide deceases per 100,000 ( e.g. Syria, Jamaica, Egypt ) are classified as low rate states.

However, these rates may really be misdirecting as they do non convey the true extent of the job. For illustration, China has a suicide rate of about 25/100,000, which places it in the in-between scope but it accounts for the largest figure of human deceases from self-destruction yearly, with 287,000 reported suicide deceases ; therefore accounting for about a 3rd of the planetary mortality from self-destruction in a twelvemonth. Similarly, India 's rate of 10/100,000 topographic points it marginally in front of states with low rates, but India is 2nd to China in the figure of suicide deceases recorded per twelvemonth, with reported figures of about 110,000 suicide deceases.  Khan, illustrated the deceptive nature of trusting wholly on these rates, without setting them in the larger context of the state 's population. He utilized comparative analysis utilizing the available figures, and showed that four states with high self-destruction rates: Lithuania, Russia, Estonia and Latvia have a combined entire figure of suicide deceases that is less than the entire figure of suicide deceases from India entirely, which is hardly above a low rate state.

Unfortunately, similar country-wide informations is non uniformly available across the Earth. Indeed, several states, including Nigeria, do non routinely cod decease records and have no describing systems to document the causes of decease. These non-reporting states exceed 50, and include states with populations totaling over 100 million people such as Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

There is a dearth of research on self-destruction from developing states. Very small is known about self-destructions in many African states, including Nigeria. Mental unwellness is seldom mentioned or is implicated in merely a little figure of self-destructions. The bulk of available studies in developing states are based on hospital necropsy studies or constabularies informations, neither of which would normally document psychological factors involved in self-destructions. Suicide is no longer a condemnable offense in any developed state but continues to be criminalized in many developing states, including Nigeria.

Religious and societal factors besides continue to act upon the diagnosing and registering of self-destructions. Families do non unwrap the true nature of the act, for fright of torment by constabulary and the attendant societal stigma that would accrue from such revelations. Alternatively they are more likely to declare the decease an accident or in some instances, a homicide.

The Nigerian context

There is dearth of information about the epidemiology of self-destruction in Nigeria. Suicides are by and large reported to be rare in less developed states. This is partially attributable to the routinely hapless records of decease and its causes. In a survey that evaluated medical examiners ' studies over a four-year period ( 1957-60 ) in the Western Region ( now broken down into several provinces ) of Nigeria, Asuni concluded that the self-destruction rate in Western Nigeria was really low. He reported higher rates of self-destruction in the rural countries compared to urban parts.

Some of import hospital-based surveies have besides provided utile penetration into this job. A reappraisal of reported instances of attempted self-destruction from the three largest infirmaries in Benin City ( Specialist, Uselu Psychiatric Hospital and the University Teaching Hospital ) indicated that the incidence had non increased over the four-year period crossing 1978 to 1981, during which the norm petroleum suicide effort rate was 7 per 100,000. The commonest age group was among adolescents aged 15-19 old ages ( 39.4 % ) , while about nine out of 10 triers ( 87 % ) were aged 30 old ages and below. The most of import predisposing factors reported were mental unwellnes ( 32 % ) and parental struggle ( 24 % ) . There was no important gender difference.

In a six-month prospective survey of 39 instances of deliberate ego injury reported in the three major infirmaries in Ibadan, Nigeria ; Odejide et al. , found that about eight in 10 ( 76.9 % ) were under the age of 30 old ages ; and merely over half ( 51.3 % ) were pupils, while 25.6 % were manual workers. The commonest methods used were consumption of chemicals and psychotropic drugs.

Nwosu and Odesanmi, in a survey carried out in the Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, that was based on medico-legal necropsy studies, reported the self-destruction rate as 0.4 per 100,000 populations, with about four times as many males perpetrating self-destruction when compared to females ( ratio of 3.6:1 ) . The bulk of the self-destructions were committed by the consumption of Gammalin 20 and usage of the local Dane gun.

Large-scale epidemiological surveies have been late conducted among grownups. A nationally representative epidemiological survey, covering 21 out of the 36 provinces in Nigeria was conducted by Gureje et al. , among 6752 grownups, to measure for self-destruction related results, and their association with mental upsets and a history of childhood hardship. They reported prevalence of self-destructive ideation, program and efforts were 3.2 % , 1 % and 0.7 % severally. The presence of mental upsets, particularly temper jobs significantly correlated with suicide results, while a history of early childhood hardship was identified as a hazard factor for life-time self-destruction effort. [ 18 ]

Uwakwe and Gureje besides examined the relationship between comorbid mental and substance usage upsets with self-destructive behaviors in the Nigerian study of mental wellness and wellbeing. They found that individuals with lifetime self-destruction efforts were more likely than those without efforts to hold experienced lifetime DSM-IV upsets. Lifetime triers were besides more likely to hold comorbid conditions. Eleven per centum of individuals with a lifetime history of self-destructive effort had three or more co-occurring upsets, as compared with merely 0.4 % of individuals with no history of life-time efforts. Controling for the effects of comorbid conditions suggests that while temper upsets may be independently associated with self-destructive results, comorbidity partially explains the association of anxiousness upsets and about to the full histories for the association of substance usage upsets with self-destructive results. The writers hence concluded that comorbidity is an of import factor in the association of mental and substance usage upsets with self-destructive behaviour in this environment.

Furthermore, Oladeji and Gureje, besides established a relationship between parental mental upsets and suicidal behavior in their progeny. The presence of panic upset and substance maltreatment in the parents were found to be associated with self-destructive ideation in the progeny, but merely parental panic upset was found to be related to suicidal efforts. The suggestion therefore, is that upsets of anxiousness and impulse control may play some function in the ascertained form of familial suicidal behaviors in their progeny.

Large graduated table surveies have besides been conducted among immature people in Nigeria. Omigbodun et al. , conducted a survey to set up the prevalence and associated psychosocial correlatives of self-destructive ideation and efforts among immature Nigerians, which revealed that, of the 1,429 young persons who were assessed, over 20 % reported self-destructive ideation and about 12 % reported that they had attempted suicide in the preceding twelvemonth. The survey reported the rates of both self-destructive ideation and efforts as care towards the upper bounds of acceptable rates for young persons. The 2nd survey evaluated the presentation and psychosocial issues associated with preadolescent suicidal attempts utilizing the 'hanging ' method in Nigeria, and reported the being of the undermentioned mental wellness jobs: depression, behavior jobs, oppositional defiant upset and impulse control jobs. Other factors found to be associated with these self-destructive behavior included nerve-racking life events such as household break, physical maltreatment, and strong-arming at school.

The form of attempted self-destruction in the Nigerian military context has besides been studied by Okulate. He described the features of patients who attempted self-destruction and examined the differences between the self-destruction triers and a group of non-suicidal, affectional upset patients at the Department of Psychiatry, Military Hospital, Yaba, Nigeria. The survey revealed that self-destructive effort patients constituted 0.37 % of all admittances during a five-year period, and 60.8 % of them were under the age of 30 old ages. The Numberss of male and female patients were about the same. Depression and acute emphasis reaction were the normally associated diagnosings. While military dependants often ingested substances in their self-destruction efforts, military forces used more violent methods such as hanging and self-stabbing, but none used pieces. Compared with non self-destructive patients, suicide triers were more likely to be single and to hold a household history of mental upset.

The highest hazards for passage from self-destructive ideation to planning, and from be aftering to attempted self-destruction normally occurs within the first twelvemonth of holding either the ideation or program. Other hazard factors for a life-time self-destructive effort include dysfunctional household backgrounds ; such as drawn-out separation from biological parents, high degrees of domestic struggles, childhood hardship, physical maltreatment and being nurtured by a adult female with a history of depression, anxiousness or self-destructive effort.

Referring the hazard and methods of suicide employed in Nigeria, new forms appear to hold emerged. HIV/AIDS has emerged as an extra hazard of self-destruction.  Other emerging hazards include the cyberspace and societal media every bit good as terrorist act and self-destruction bombardment which though foreigner to Nigerian society, appears to hold come to remain. Burning with kerosene  , cutting one 's pharynx and bring downing perforating abdominal stab hurt on oneself  are besides new but upseting methods of trying and finishing self-destruction in Nigeria.

Prevention strategies

Suicide bar is having increased attending in many developed states, but remains mostly ignored in developing states like Nigeria. There are no easy solutions to the job of self-destruction in developing states, given the serious deficiency of resources and low precedence given to mental wellness. There is besides the extra job of limited research on self-destruction in developing states, doing it imperative to trust on bar schemes that have been proven to work elsewhere but non in developing states. Furthermore, due to the unfavorable attitude towards self-destruction and mental unwellnes, every bit good as the punitory legal demands for self-destructive behavior, self-destruction continues to be under reported in developing states, doing it hard to carry on research or develop and prove bar schemes.

The World Health Organization has identified suicide as an progressively of import country of public wellness and has issued guidelines to member provinces in order to develop and implement coordinated and comprehensive national and international schemes. It has besides included self-destruction as one of the nine precedence conditions in the late launched mhGAP Intervention manual for scaling up services for mental and neurological conditions globally. The mhGAP manual is designed to function as a preparation manual for non-specialists in the designation and proviso of intercession for precedence mental wellness conditions, as a manner of cut downing the immense intervention spread in several parts of the universe.

There is grounds for the effectivity of two major schemes for forestalling self-destruction. These include limitation of entree to lethal agencies and developing programmes for primary attention physicians to heighten early acknowledgment and intervention of depression with or without self-destructive ideation. Both attacks should be utile in our scene, but the latter attack to heighten the ability of general practicians, primary wellness attention workers and all other cells of wellness professionals to acknowledge and offer intercessions for depressive upsets is of important importance.

Suicidal behaviors are besides strongly associated with the presence of mental upsets. In a underdeveloped state like Nigeria an of import measure towards suicide bar will be to cut down the stigma associated with mental wellness jobs.

A reappraisal of the state 's Mental Health Policy and Legislation, to comprehensively turn to the current challenges of mental upsets, and their complications, including self-destruction and self-destructive behavior is long delinquent. These attempts should besides take for the decriminalisation of self-destructive behaviors in our Torahs.

These stairss will be meaningless, if our wellness records and describing systems are non reformed to include mortality rates and the certification of the causes of deceases. This should assist in determining the self-destruction rates in the state, and supply a platform for utile planning and the execution of suicide bar schemes. Focused research in this country should be promoted, particularly with regard to placing hazard factors, get bying mechanisms, protective factors and possible intercessions to minimise the calamity of self-destruction and self-destructive behavior in this environment


In this work, the writers have demonstrated that self-destruction and suicidal behavior are a public wellness issue, merely like in other states of the universe. Like in other parts of the development universe merely a modest volume of research has been conducted on the topic in Nigeria, reflecting the deficiency of involvement of clinicians, research workers, policy shapers and, possibly, research grant suppliers on the topic. For better self-destruction research which should ensue in better bar schemes, it is imperative that self-destruction be decriminalized. Cultural and spiritual factors forestalling people from describing and stigmatising self-destruction should besides be addressed through public enlightenment runs. An betterment in the mortality records, that besides specifies the causes of decease should be ensured at all degrees of attention. It might besides be helpful if the WHO could leverage on member states to roll up and supply one-year self-destruction rates in their legal powers. Finally, self-destruction is a public wellness job that requires a multidisciplinary attempt at question, bar and direction. The earlier this is realized in the Nigerian context, the better for our emerging mental wellness attention.

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Suicide And Suicidal Behaviors. (2018, Aug 26). Retrieved from

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