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Nigerian takes to the water to raise mental health awareness

By Seun Sanni and Ope Adetayo

LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigerian swimmer Akinrodoye Samuel has tried to raise awareness on mental health in Africa's most populous nation, swimming nearly 12 km (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.

"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.

(This story has been corrected to say that Samuel's friend nearly took his own life, instead of saying that he died, in paragraph 2)

(Reporting by Seun Sanni, writing by Ope Adetayo, editing by Nick Macfie)