Causes of Suicide in Nigeria


A host of factors have been attributed to the growing suicide trend in the country. Listed below are some of the most common causes of suicide throughout the world.



           The country’s debt profile is high, inflation is on the increase, and companies are folding up while there is a high rate of unemployment coupled with the escalating cost of living. It is, therefore, not unusual that economic recession is resulting in depression for compatriots who are increasingly being overwhelmed by its negative impacts.   Being unemployed can lead to feelings of isolation and make your life feel as if it is void of purpose. With a poor economy, many people lose their jobs and look for new work, but since the competition is fierce, landing a new job can be difficult. In many cases being unemployed not only makes people feel as if they have no purpose in life, but it can also lead to depression over a lack of an income as well.

                 Unemployed individuals aren’t earning any money and may get especially stressed out when it comes time to pay bills. Being unable to earn money and provide for yourself and/or a family can result in significant depression and anxiety. In addition to unemployment, hating your current job can also lead to suicidal thoughts and possible actions if you feel as if there is no alternative option.

               Employment provides most people with a sense of purpose and belonging to a specific group or company. If you are unemployed you may find yourself socially isolated and lacking purpose and structure in your day. Being employed helps individuals stay busy and can take their minds off many things.


Recent media reports from several Neuro-Psychiatric hospitals across the country reveal that the incidence of mental illness including depressive disorders is on the rise. After years of trying various medications (and cocktails), going through medication withdrawals, and experimenting with therapies, some people are stuck in a constant state of mental pain and despair.

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a. Anxiety: Having generalized anxiety, social phobia, panic attacks, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can drive a person crazy. Some forms of anxiety make it extremely difficult to maintain friendships, finish school, or hold down a steady job. The combination of loneliness and fear can lead a person to contemplate suicide.

 b. Bipolar disorder: There are a couple of subtypes of Bipolar disorder, but essentially it involves fluctuations in mood from states of severe depression to elevations in mood such as mania and hypomania. These mood fluctuations can make it difficult for people with this disorder to maintain relationships and balanced life. Additionally, depression can lead a person to feel suicidal.

c. Depression: Major depression is a leading cause of suicide throughout the world. People that do not treat their depressive symptoms have a greater risk of following through with suicide. Individuals with major depression are typically genetically wired in a way that makes it difficult to feel pleasure and happiness in life. 90% of people who commit suicide suffer from untreated depression. A Public Policy Analyst, Alex Ogundadegbe, said that suicide was not the best way to manage any situation, and blamed the government for the increasing number of suicide cases.


According to him, while depression constitutes a major challenge in the country, the requirements to settle those that are depressed are non-existent. “Suicide is not only related to Nigeria but a general societal problem. All we expect is for government to remedy the situation by providing what will make citizens comfortable. “We know that the major cause of the problem is depression, but the requirements to settle the depression among us are non-existent. There are no working national security system, unemployment benefits, good infrastructure and economy, all these lead to depression,” he stated. (Guardian)

d. Schizophrenia: This is a highly severe mental illness with an array of symptoms including severe depression, hallucinations, and cognitive impairment. Having this illness makes it difficult to function in life and can serve as a major challenge because most medications to treat this illness carry severe side effects. Anywhere from 20% to 40% of people with this illness attempt suicide.

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                  Any type of traumatic experience can lead a person to feel helpless, guilty, and/or ashamed. If you were the victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or dealt with trauma in war, you are much more likely to end up with post-traumatic stress disorder. This disorder and the feelings associated with traumatic experiences can lead a person to become suicidal.

PTSD: Many people with PTSD or “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” develops after a person is faced with a traumatic experience such as warfare, being seriously injured, or being assaulted. The illness is characterized by flashbacks and numbing or blockage of memories surrounding the traumatic experience. People with this illness often live in a state of intense, and sometimes debilitating anxiety and/or fear that can interfere with leading a normal life. When people feel helpless about their situation and permanently traumatized, they may turn to suicide.

Physical abuse: People who are victims of physical abuse either growing up or in a relationship can be traumatized. They may harbor feelings of guilt and shame that stay trapped inside for years. When someone is abused it may go unrecognized and unreported for an extended period. A person who is being physically abused may view suicide as the only way in which they can escape their situation.

Sexual abuse: Any form of sexual abuse can lead a person to feel depressed and suicidal. In cases of molestation and rape, a person is forced to perform sexual acts against their will. This can result in significant psychological trauma caused to the victim. When unreported or not addressed, this trauma can make a person feel highly suicidal.

War:Being involved in a war can lead a person to see death, and horrendous injuries, and feel fearful for their own life. This intense anxiety and paranoia over whether the soldier will stay alive coupled with seeing others die and injured can lead to trauma. People see things in war that make them physically sick and in many cases, they have a tough time mentally healing. The lack of support for veterans and not understanding their psychological diagnosis can sometimes result in suicide.

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                 Many people struggle with relationships including being in abusive relationships, not feeling appreciated, and/or going through break-ups. There are many different types of relationships that a person could struggle with. Some people may have difficulties making friends and maintaining a close group for socialization. Others may struggle with staying in abusive relationships just so that they can avoid feeling isolated and lonely.

The need for human belonging is so strong that some people are willing to join gangs and/or humiliate themselves just to be in a relationship with another person. As far as romantic relationships are concerned, the act of a break-up can trigger intense feelings of depression, anxiety, guilt, and panic – leading a person to deal with a lot of emotional pain. Often in the news, we read about people committing suicide as the result of a break-up with a significant other.


                           A lot of suicide risk has to do with genetics and family history. Those who are from a family in which suicide is common are more likely to commit suicide themselves.

Additionally, if a mental illness is inherited such as major depression, this can further increase the risk of suicide. Family, twin, and adoption studies have all established genetic links to suicidal behavior.

Various traits including aggression, borderline personality disorder, cognitive inflexibility, and stress sensitivity are all linked to influencing suicidal behavior. If you inherit any of these traits, they could put you at an increased risk of suicide. Although there is a genetic link, it is not certain to what degree this affects someone’s decision to follow through with the act of suicide. Additionally, epigenetics, or the activation or deactivation of genes based on environmental factors is thought to play a role. In other words, your circumstances, the people you hang out with, where you live, etc. could all influence your genetic expression and thus be partially influential in determining whether a person becomes suicidal.


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