The Director General at the Mental Health Authority, Dr Kwasi Osei, has revealed that victims of suicide in Ghana, are mostly the youth and children.
Dr. Kwesi Osei
At a press conference as part of the Mental Health Week Celebration under the theme ‘Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention’, Dr Osei noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has put figures of people, who die by suicide each year at more than 800,000, making it the principal cause of death among people 15 to 29 years old.
For the breakdown, every 40 seconds, the world loses someone to suicide.
In Ghana, according to Dr. Kwasi Osei, data available as it stands from a study by a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) some five years ago is 1,500 deaths per annum through suicide.
He added that by one single line alone, he had 45 calls from people ranging from 18 to 35 years most of them from relationship problems, socio-economic problems and pre-existing mental health challenges, which 60percent of them were women and 35percent were students.
The Director General for the Mental Health Authority also stated that the country’s Criminal and Offences Act says attempted suicide is a misdemeanor but stated that since attempted suicide is oftentimes a sign of depression or some form of mental illness and a cry for help, they have sent a petition to Parliament and the Attorney General to decriminalized attempted suicide in the country.
The Authority called on Parliament and the Attorney General’s Department to help decriminalise suicide, describing court processes against persons who attempt suicide as needless.
According to the CEO, they have already petitioned the two legal entities to help expunge from the Criminal Offences Act, the punishment prescribed for people who attempt suicide.
Speaking to Class91.3FM’s Jerry Akornor after the press conference in Accra to mark the 2019 World Mental Health Day on Thursday, 10 October 2019, DrOsei said attempted suicide is a sign of depression and a cry for help, adding that the victims must be left off the hook.
“Anybody who attempts suicide is basically saying: ‘Society, I need help, please come to my rescue’. And instead of rescuing the person, we say: ‘Go to jail’,” he lamented.
According to Dr Osei, the WHO, estimates yearly suicides as exceeding 800,000, making it a principal cause of death among people aged 15 to 19 years.
He said for every 40 seconds, the world loses someone to suicide. The MHA receives 45 calls for help against suicide every month.