Religious organisations urged to prevent suicide

Dr Akwasi Osei,Chief Psychiatrist.Religious organisations have been urged to consider suicide as a societal menace and help prevent its occurrence.

They have also been advised to discuss the issue and offer support to victims of attempted suicide.

The advice came from Mrs. Priscilla Elikplim Tawiah, a Deputy Director of Community Care (DDCC), Mental Health Authority, on the World Suicide Day, which was observed on September 10.

Speaking to members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Accra last Saturday, on the theme: “Connect, Communicate, Care”, Mrs. Tawiah said lack of communication was a common risk factor to suicide.

She said it was a taboo to talk about suicide in Ghana because of the shame it brought to victims and their families.

Mrs. Tawiah dispelled the misconception that people may not commit suicide when they talk about it, or that discussing suicide may give someone the idea to take their own life and the assertion that nothing could stop one if the plan was premeditated.

She said suicide was caused by mental illness, economic and health factors, and that the attribute to moral and spiritual weakness was untrue.

She advised the Church to reach out to members and others, who feel ostracised, alienated, seeking access to knives, guns and pills as they those were signs of suicide.

In an interview with The Ghanaian Times, Dr. Akwasi Osei, Chief Psychiatrist at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, appealed to the government to decriminalise suicide by repealing the Criminal Code of 1963, which prescribed punishment for victims of failed and attempted suicide.

He said the breakdown of communalism and the extended family system in Ghana was giving rise to the menace.

According to the Network for Anti-suicide,   about 1,500 people below the age of 35 die from suicide in Ghana annually, with the Greater Accra Region recording the highest number.

It says that the northern part of Ghana came second with hanging and gunshots used as common methods by the perpetrators.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), nearly one million people died from suicide annually.

WHO observed that somebody dies from suicide every 40 seconds about 20 times the number of unsuccessful suicide.

It says that more men than women commit suicide because men used methods that tend to be successful.

By Malik Sullemana





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