In 2017, a 31-year-old taxi driver Hammed Olojo tried to jump into Lagos Lagoon before he was prevented.
Hammed was later charged with attempted suicide, and he was far from alone: Nigeria currently ranks 15th in the world for suicides, according to the WHO, though comparisons to older data are made difficult by a lack of accurate record-keeping in the country.
But while attempts like Olojo’s made headlines in Nigeria the following day, this is an indication of of what could potentially be a greater crisis to come for Nigeria.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economic powerhouse. According to Nigeria’s first-ever National Depression Report.
In 2014 a WHO study discovered that on average around the world, there are nine mental health workers per 100,000 people.
That’s not the case in Nigeria: Despite a population of 190 million, there are fewer than 200 psychiatrists in the country, that is Nigeria has just one for every 1 million people, according to a 2016 study published in BioMed Central.
And, says Dr. Gabriel Onyeama of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, that’s not just an issue of not enough doctors choosing to specialize in psychiatry. It’s also one of brain drain.
“Many of the psychiatrists we produce in Nigeria end up in developed countries,” he says.
For those who qualify and choose to stay, there aren’t enough job openings every year. Before Nigeria can solve its doctor shortage, it must first hold onto the doctors it trains.