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Understanding the Nigeria Suicide Rate: Causes and Solutions

April 19, 2021

Dive into the complex issue of the Nigeria suicide rate and explore possible solutions in this insightful guide. Gain a better understanding of this concerning trend.

Updated March 2022

Following some remote causes of suicide in present-day Nigeria, ranging from economic to health and social factors, do we stand a chance to curb this suicide rate? Are there measures we can put in place to manage victims? Find out more in this article.

Nigeria can we reduce suicide

Why Do People Commit Suicide?

There are lots of reasons why someone may be experiencing suicidal feelings; for example, if there’s been a big change in your life, you’ve struggled with a low mood for some time, or you’ve lost someone close to you.

Other key risks include:

  • Having a mental health disorder
  • Unemployment or low job satisfaction
  • Being diagnosed with a serious illness
  • Living with a chronic illness
  • History of being abused or witnessing abuse
  • Being bullied or socially isolated
  • Family history of suicide
  • Living alone or being unmarried
  • Alcohol and/or drug dependence
  • Barriers to seeking emotional help and support
  • Incarceration

Any changes to your life can affect how you feel, and these can happen to anyone, says Harper.

‘We’ve experienced an unprecedented amount of change in our lives recently. Remember that there is always support available, and you’re not alone.’

Suicide Risk Identification and Treatment Challenges

This is the biggest area of need – and the toughest to deal with presently.
It is particularly so in largely conservative societies you find in a country like Nigeria.

In such places, people’s culture of keeping things ‘under wraps to avoid shame’ is embellished by limited access to funds.

Both of these challenges are further compounded because they cannot readily access adequate healthcare where and when they need it.

It’s also difficult where there are inadequate health systems and insufficient workers. This means we don’t have the capacity to properly assess a person’s mental state and then treat it correctly.

The treatments vary and require time, plus a supportive environment or structure.

So there are no ‘easy’ or fast ways of getting around it.

To reduce the suicide rate, we need a working health system.

One that has facilities that are well equipped and manned by staff who are well trained – all that takes time to set up and develop.

This is possible in Nigeria with good governance and planning.

Suicide Prevention Tools (Deterrents)

I support restricting access to harmful objects and adapting environments to keep people safe and reduce the Nigeria suicide rate.

Some others believe this mindset is wrong and useless, and rather, they feel that anyone so determined to commit suicide will find a way regardless.

However, taking this mindset does not allow us to use deterrents as one of the necessary tools to curb suicide attempts.

Some examples of deterrents are:

  • Publicly denote a substance as very toxic and limit its public access
    • This does not mean an outright ban but can mean options like reducing and controlling the outlets which sell such items.
  • Sell only limited amounts of the item at a time to the general public.
    • This needs the right context to recognise the nature of Nigerian markets and how hard it is to regulate.
  • Consider ‘popular’ methods people use to attempt suicide and ask:
    • ‘How do people access these methods’?
    • ‘Can we make it more difficult for them to access these methods’?

Creating Effective Safety Measures

By answering these questions, we may be able to create effective safety measures to curb the suicide rate that suits our environment: Some of these measures can include:

  • Placing barriers over low bridges.
  • Limiting access to poisonous chemicals or toxins by way of restricting their sale or distribution.
    • The second is a measure that found success in places like the United Kingdom, which found itself in a serious situation some years ago over rising suicide attempts, especially among young people.
    • Back then, a popular mechanism for deliberate self-harm was taking overdoses of Paracetamol.
    • Based on the knowledge of the toxic levels of paracetamol, the UK went on (via a national legislature ) to establish laws. They can prevent the sale of any more than a specific number of paracetamol tablets to one individual at a time.
  • Another example is: limiting the potential toxicity of publicly sold hazardous agents by decreasing their harmful impact at manufacture.
  • This last point is a key measure.
    • So many commonly sold agents, like rat poison, weedkiller, bleach etc, are significantly toxic.
    • The reasoning is to encourage the manufacture of less concentrated versions.
    • These remain effective for their original purpose but are less toxic when ingested or used to attempt suicide.

Progressive Steps to Take

These are simply a few examples of steps that could be taken to reduce the suicide rate. Will they prevent EVERY suicide attempt? No.

While deterrence ALONE will not solve the problem, it can, in addition to other measures, help in buying time or amending the circumstance around the desire to attempt suicide at that time by an individual.

Time may be what is needed perhaps for someone to get help, e.g. to speak to someone who can help or can diffuse the immediate pressure for committing the act, allowing a support measure or needed treatment to be used – for instance, as is shown counsellors

Finally, it takes the will and commitment of our government to ensure that structures are put in place to support the development of mental health services.

While mental health problems like depression or severe anxiety may be a factor in some self harms acts, other reasons may exist.

Success in reducing the Nigeria suicide rate will arise from well-planned and executed measures and not knee-jerk reactions.


You might be going through a cause to warrant suicide. Please get help, and don’t fight alone.

Do you find this article helpful, or would you like to speak to a doctor about your health? Please leave a comment below.

More Reading


  1. Depression and grief after a loved one’s death
  2. 15 telltale signs you have depression and when to seek help
  3. Growing Old and Mental Health
  4. When someone is thinking of suicide, these are the people who talk them out of it

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare. 

The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly

Image Credits: Canva

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