‘Putting people in prison over attempted suicide makes no sense’-lawyer

Private legal practitioner, lawyer Maurice Ampaw has underscored the need for the review of punishment for persons who attempt to commit suicide.

The lawyer told Kwabena Agyapong on Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm that he does not think so many years imprisonment for such individuals was necessary.

He was of the view that Ghana must review the punishment and adopt a restoration approach for victims of suicide attempt.

He indicated that persons who attempt suicide should not be treated as criminals such as armed robbers or other hardened criminals because they have peculiar problems and must be referred to appropriate quarters such as psychiatric hospital or physiologists for assistance.

He stressed on the need to counsel such individuals and assist them where possible.

It is estimated that close to 800, 000 people die due to suicide every year.

Suicide has been described as the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.

Ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally.

79% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.

It is estimated that around 20% of global suicides are due to pesticide self-poisoning, most of which occur in rural agricultural areas in low- and middle-income countries. Other common methods of suicide are hanging and firearms.

Attempted suicide is still considered a crime in Ghana.

The Criminal Offences Act-1960 (Act 29), Section-57-Abetmenet of Suicide, Attempted Suicide states that: ”Whoever abets the commission of suicide by any person shall whether or not the suicide be actually committed, be guilty of first degree felony and Whoever attempts to commit suicide shall be guilty of a misdemenour.”

Some critics have call;ed for the law criminalising suicide to be scrapped since it bothers on mental issue.

Just last week, a 35-year-old man attempted suicide in the public gallery of parliament.

The who was identified as Kojo Mensah from Kwesimintim sat at the public gallery with a rope wearing the T-shirt of Kwesimintim MP Joe Mensah.

As sitting adjourned, he shouted he wants to jump off the gallery to the main floor and was restrained by the security persons.


WHO response

WHO recognizes suicide as a public health priority. The first WHO World Suicide Report “Preventing suicide: a global imperative” published in 2014, aims to increase the awareness of the public health significance of suicide and suicide attempts and to make suicide prevention a high priority on the global public health agenda. It also aims to encourage and support countries to develop or strengthen comprehensive suicide prevention strategies in a multisectoral public health approach.

Suicide is one of the priority conditions in the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) launched in 2008, which provides evidence-based technical guidance to scale up service provision and care in countries for mental, neurological and substance use disorders. In the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020, WHO Member States have committed themselves to working towards the global target of reducing the suicide rate in countries by 10% by 2020.

In addition, the suicide mortality rate is an indicator of target 3.4 of the Sustainable Development Goals: by 2030, to reduce by one third premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and well-being.



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