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To raise mental health awareness, Nigerian swims length of Lagos’ longest bridge

Nigerian swimmer Akinrodoye Samuel has tried to raise awareness of mental health in Africa’s most populous nation, swimming nearly 7.45 miles, the length of the longest bridge in Lagos where many people have jumped to their deaths.

Samuel, a swimming coach, said he was moved by the experience of a friend who nearly took his own life due to depression.

A 2021 UNICEF report showed one in six Nigerians aged between 15 and 24 were depressed, anxious or had other mental health issues. Medical professionals say the stigma associated with mental health in Nigeria’s culturally conservative society makes it difficult for people to open up.

Akinrodoye Samuel jumps into the water to start his ambitious attempt to swim the nearly 7.45-mile stretch of the Third Mainland Bridge, advocating for the theme ‘Swim Against Suicide And Depression’ in Lagos, Nigeria, on March 30, 2024. (Reuters/Marvellous Durowaiye)

“We are doing this, too, so people don’t just think that suicide is the next option,” Samuel told Reuters after finishing the swim in the Lagos Lagoon on Saturday.


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