At least 7.28 per cent of residents of Lagos State a survey has found are often bothered with the thought that they would be better off dead or of hurting themselves in some way.

Experts involved in the new Lagos State Mental Health Survey (LSMHS) found the suicidal tendency in the state was significantly connected with common mental disorders like depression, anxiety and disability, but not alcohol and substance use.

According to them, common mental disorders were significantly related to suicidal ideation, and this relationship was of very high magnitude with depression.

Although this is less than the cross-national lifetime prevalence of 9.2 per cent in the World Mental Health Survey Initiative, it is far more than the reported Nigerian lifetime prevalence of 3.2 per cent in the same survey.

The researchers found female gender and not being married to be significantly associated with suicidal tendency as well as a suicidal tendency higher among people within the lower occupational group.

The survey involved 11 246 adults from the five administrative divisions of Lagos State that completed questionnaires detailing suicidal ideation (the thought that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way), socio-demographic details, common mental disorders, alcohol and psychoactive substance use disorders and disability between August and September 2015.

The 2016 study published in the journal, Royal College of Psychiatrists, was initiated to assess the types, patterns and severity of common mental health problems among citizens of Lagos State. The overall aim of this study was to estimate the current prevalence of suicidal ideation and examine the associated factors using the data from the LSMHS.

Although the study did not evaluate suicidal plans and attempt, the researchers believed that the finding deserves more investigations given that transition from the thought of a suicide or hurting themselves in some way to first onset of plan or attempt is extremely elevated within the first one year of the thought begins and decreases substantially thereafter.

They declared: “We have validated the earlier findings of mental disorders being the main factors associated with suicidal ideation, but our study emphasises the need for further research that will not only explain the variability in the rate, but have local factors specific to the country as part of the model for risk factors.

“Despite the validity of cross-national surveys, there is need for individual countries to generate complementary local data to explain variability in rates and risk factors in order to plan for suicide prevention or develop timely and effective response.”

It is estimated that about 800 000 people die by suicide every year, representing an annual age-standardised suicide rate of 6.11 per 100 000 population in Nigeria.

Suicide is one of the three leading causes of death among those in the most economically productive age group (15 to 44 years). It is a public health issue that is estimated to contribute more than two per cent to the global burden of disease by the year 2020, especially in the sub-Saharan African countries where services are scarce.

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