Nigerian Students Have One of the Highest Rates of Suicidal Thoughts Globally- CCAMH

The Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CCAMH), University of Ibadan, says that Nigerian students have one of the highest rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts globally. Prof. Olayinka Omigbodun, the Director of CCAMH, stated this on Wednesday in Ibadan at a symposium held to mark the 2019 Day of the African Child. 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme selected by the African Union to commemorate the day is: “Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First”. NAN also reports that the Day of the African Child was set aside by the African Union in 1991 to recognise children who lost their lives in the June 16 children uprising in Soweto, South Africa. Omigbogun, a consultant psychiatrist, said that 50 per cent of mental disorders had their onset before the age of 14, a period within which he said critical growth and development occur. 

“Several studies identifying the health situation of children and adolescents in schools have been conducted by the CCAMH. “The results of several needs assessment reveal a huge burden of health concerns within schools in Nigeria.
 “A couple of years ago, our research team went into 22 rural and urban schools in Ibadan and studied about 2000 in-school adolescents. “We have found that one in five of these students in our study reported thoughts of suicide while one in 10 said that they had attempted suicide in the last one year,” she said. 

Omigbodun also said that they found that adolescents who came from unstable homes had higher rates of suicides. She added that adolescents, who were exposed to sexual abuse, physical attacks, physical fights and bullying at school, were more likely to report attempting suicide. 

The consultant psychiatrist also noted that one in five of adolescents in school use psychoactive substances which, according to her, are more likely to cause depression and conduct disorder among other mental health problems. She called on government at all levels and private school owners to invest in sustainable school health and welfare programmes, saying that school forms an integral part of children and adolescents’ mental health and wellness. “Promotion of health and wellbeing in school is a child’s right; children spend a lot of their formative years in school. 



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