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Suicide: Why We Can’t Ban ‘Sniper’ – NAFDAC

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has said despite growing conversion over the use of Sniper for suicides, it lacks the power to ban the product from the market.

In an exclusive interview, the director, special duties, NAFDAC, Abubakar Jimoh, while regretting that the purpose of sniper is not what it is being used for now, said that the abuse is not within the ambit of NAFDAC.

“It is just like when people use acid for attack, the purpose of acid is not to attack people. Some years ago, NAFDAC was also called to the rescue when people started attacking others with acid.

“Asking us to regulate when people have criminal tendency or intention is not within the remit of NAFDAC’s regulatory activities.

“Sniper is an insecticide, it is not meant for people to go and drink or kill themselves. From NAFDAC’s perspective, we are regulating it and ensuring control. The purpose of control is also to ensure that during the labelling of sniper and other products registered by NAFDAC; there are certain warnings to be put there especially for pesticides and chemicals. Warnings are usually written boldly on the label to ensure that people don’t misuse it out of ignorance.”

Suicide is becoming a public concern in Nigeria, as the act, which was hitherto hardly heard of, is now so rampant. Within the past few days, two persons have been reported to have committed suicide by consuming the insecticide, popularly known as sniper.

According to reports, a 17-year-old boy, Amos Ibrahim, took his own life in Jos, Plateau State, by consuming the substance.

It was reported that the young man took the poison after failing the 2019 Joint Admissions and Matriculation Exams.

In Nsukka, Enugu State, a student, Chukwuemeka Akachi, was also reported to have consumed sniper after writing a book on how to die.

In an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend, mental health experts called on Nigerians to seek help when going through mental health illness. They said mental health sickness is not a death sentence, as it is 100 per cent preventable.

Mental Health physician and psychotherapist, Maymunah Kadiri, told LEADERSHIP Weekend that most statistics in Nigeria revealed that one out of every five Nigerians have mental health illness, but the sad part of it is that most Nigerians think people who suffer from mental health illnesses are those on the streets.

According to her, the people on the streets represent just one to two per cent of mental health cases in the country.

“The 98 per cent of mental illnesses come from us, not those on the street. As it were right now, one out of every five Nigerians is currently depressed. Depression is so high that it cuts across all gender, socio-economic status etc.

“Anyone can be depressed at any point in time. As a young person, you can have depression. And the bitter truth is that some of us may be depressed without being aware because it is only doctors that can diagnose if one has chronic depression or not,” she explained.

Speaking on suicide, the psychotherapist said suicide is 100 per cent preventable because the red flags are there; the warning signs are there.  “If a friend tells you that if he or she dies, nobody would miss him or her, that is a red flag.

“If a friend gives you a gift that you know she cherishes a lot, that is a red flag or a warning sign, a friend who could do anything just to look good and then all of a sudden, nothing matters anymore, that is a warning sign. A friend who is no longer picking your calls, always wanting to be alone and crying, you need to watch such a friend.”

The truth is, no one wants to die, the people that are committing suicide just want to run away from their pains, the only thing that comes to their minds at that fragile stage is suicide and the most rampant form of suicides is drinking insecticide, suicide by hanging etc, said Kadiri.

She, however, advised those going through depression to get a healthy system. “If your friends are not helping you, you would need new friends that can support you. Also, you need to optimise your strengths and minimise your weaknesses,” she added.

She advised the youths to aspire to be great because all humans have a drop of greatness in them.

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