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General News of Monday, 16 October 2017

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Mental Health Authority pushes for decriminalization of suicide

The Ghana Mental Health Authority is urging parliament to expedite action on the passage of a legislative instrument for the implementation of the Mental Health Law.

Officials say the government must declare suicide as a national disaster which can be overcome if is accorded attention similar to the recent gas explosion at Atomic Junction in Accra.

Mental health physician, Professor Vincent Agyapong, was speaking at the 7th Inter-University Debate on Mental Health in Kumasi.

The inter-medical school public speaking competition is among four state universities in the country: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast and University for Development Studies.

Speakers have been unanimous in their appeal for Legislative Instrument.

Professor Agyapong is leading the advocacy said: “It will be good if the president and the cabinet prioritize the decriminalization of suicide just like how they conveyed immediately after the gas explosion in Accra.”

“We want government to see suicide as a national disaster and parliament should fasten the process in passing the Legislative Instrument.”

Acting Head of Psychiatry at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Dr. Ruth Owusu Antwi bemoans attempts to criminalize persons who attempt suicide rather increase the act.

“The British who were the first to hand this law over to us have decriminalized suicide since the early 1960’s and so why are we still following their steps?"

"In any case, people who attempt suicide have passed the stage of fear of death why would they fear to be in prison? So criminalizing suicide will not deter the act.

"From Kumasi, statistics show that people who are put in jail on the accounts of attempting suicide try [to end their life] in jail three to five times so at the end of the day you don’t deter them they still want to die anyway,” she explained.

According to her, almost 90 percent of people who attempt suicide have underlying mental conditions.