Friday, 1 November 2013

Nigeria: Suicides, bad journalism and mental health

Feeds to the fed-up
Since Google Reader died I have used Feedly as my RSS aggregator which allows me to catch-up with blogs, news stories and events.
I take feeds from six Nigerian newspapers, and I might add a few more as I get used to their material and their reporting slant.
However, this afternoon I was left befuddled as I vacillated between utter disgust and incandescent rage.
Rotten journalism
PM News Nigeria published a piece about suicides being on the rise, and that is already a big problem if our youth are now resorting to taking their lives for whatever reasons around situation, circumstance or state of mind.
Journalism in Nigeria just hit a new low, well beneath the unprofessionalism of yellow journalism, absent proofreading or poor copy.
The news story PM News Nigeria published did not warn of the graphic images they attached to their report; one picture showed a boy on a slab, and as if that was not bad enough, there was another of the boy hanging from a noose. [I will not perpetrate this evil by providing a link to the story.]
This level of insensitivity that subscribes to the macabre and savage depiction is contemptuous, we must repudiate this in the strongest terms; it is odium in the extreme.
Mental illness and suicides
We could relate suicides to mental health or emotional issues, and we do not seem to understand that well in our culture; hence, we are unable to find ways to ameliorate the issue before it comes intractable.
Societal and cultural pressures elevating anxiety or creating depression all bottled up leaves a pressure cooker situation that presents suicide as the only pressure valve outlet.
These issues considering our obtuse religiosity are not just spiritual to be tackled with prayer and holy water. The public needs to be aware of psychological and psychiatric care for everyday problems.
The stigma associated with handling mental health issues looms large, we assume only ‘mad’ people or lunatics see psychiatrists. Education, information and enlightenment is necessary.
Therapy is key
I am of the opinion that we all need therapy at some stage of our lives, we must not confuse therapy with counselling, and qualified professionals should handle these issues.
The other issue with these suicides is whether these are really suicides or murders rigged up as suicides.
The question is whether we have the detection, medical examination or forensic expertise to determine the differences and the wherewithal to pursue these cases to the logical and just conclusion.
Could this be murder?
We cannot just assume suicides are the end of the story, there should be thorough investigations of the circumstances to ascertain the whys and determine the possible local suicide risks that might exhibit the vulnerabilities that presage these tragic events.
I hope PM News Nigeria and other journaling organisations or people will recognise that pandering to the basest instincts of feeding the public with the macabre is irresponsible at best, words fail me in describing the extreme that this represents.
May the souls of the unfortunately departed rest in peace and may their survivors find strength and fortitude to bear their losses.


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