Periodic mental health examination critical to avert suicide – Psychiatrist


A resident Psychiatrist at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Damilola Okusaga- Arthur, has advised individuals to undergo periodic mental health examination to prevent them from having triggers that may lead to suicidal thoughts.

The Psychiatrist said some factors that need prompt attention from experts include; when one sees changes in his or her behavior.

“You need to seek advice when you see a change in your sleep, waking up too early, different behavior, you don’t feel like eating, not that you are on diet or fasting, and decline in productivity’’ she cited.

Speaking on TV3’s NewDay show with Naa Ashorkor and Berla Mundi on September 13, Dr Damilola Okusaga- Arthur attributed the major cause of suicide to pre-existing mental health condition.

“The low and middle-income countries like Ghana have some 5% burden of untreated diagnosed mental health condition. There are so many people that are walking around probably here or in our community, that have not been diagnosed, they just need some things to trigger,” she explained.

The Psychiatrist stated that data at the Mental Health Authority indicate that the number of people who attempted suicide in the year 2020 is quite high.

“In Ghana, there are some studies that show that about 1,500 people every year die from suicide, but the Mental Health Authority has observed that about 777 people attempted suicide in 2020 and these numbers have been rising every year. As at last year, the number was 902 and with completed suicide (people who succeeded) the number is increasing steadily. Last year was 92 or so and as at June 2023, 48 people have already died from suicide” she revealed.

Dr Okusaga- Arthur added that the reported number keeps increasing, because there is an awareness creation which has encouraged people to report such incidents. She suggested that suicide is grossly under- reported. So, the numbers may be higher.

“The increase in awareness and data collection has increased the numbers, because people are reporting. There are factors that make one psycho-social influence on people’s behavior, finances, family dynamics, personal issues, relationship breakdown and family history,” the Psychiatrist noted.

She urged people with depression and anxiety issues to manage the situation by talking to people they trust. The little advises they give are called copping strategies which can help solve the problem half way, but if the problem does not improve, then they should see a psychiatrist.

“If you are feeling impending doom, then you feel fearful for no apparent reason. Even if there is a reason, the fear is an exaggeration compared to what is on the ground, or you are feeling jittery or something like that, then you are feeling anxious. When you experience something like this, it is important to talk to someone first,” she advised.

By Tenisha Darryl-Lartey 


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