MP urges President to ratify amended suicide act

 Member of Parliament (MP) for Akatsi South, Bernard Ahi­afor, is urging President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to as a matter of urgency, assent to the Criminal and Other Offences (Amendment) Act which has decriminalised suicide.

The MP said the decriminalisa­tion of the offence was long over­due, and the President should not waste time in assenting to the Act, so that persons who may attempt suicide could be given the needed support.

Mr Ahiafor, who is also the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Constitutional, Legal and Parlia­mentary Affairs Committee, said though the President has a consti­tutional time-frame to assent to the bill, he should do so expeditiously because the bill was not of a con­troversial nature as both sides of the House supported it.

Parliament on Thursday passed the Amended Act, sponsored by the Akatsi South MP, to decriminalise suicide and consider it a mental or psychological problem, which needs attention.

Mr Ahiafor, speaking to journalists in Accra, said assenting to the bill to make it law would give people the urge to seek medical attention for their relatives, who may have attempt­ed suicide.

“The person who attempts suicide is in a state of mind such that he or she cannot appreciate the nature of the act that he or she will be carrying out; that is taking his life knowing very well that life is one and once lost, it can never be regained. Clearly, the person is either having a mental or psychological problem,” he said.

According to the MP, it was im­portant to reach out to persons who were unsuccessful with suicide with medical assistance to ensure they did not repeat same.

Mr Ahiafor said “Re­search has shown that most people that have attempted suicide and unsuccessful continue to attempt it until they suc­ceed because the mental or psychological problem that the person is having still persists.”

In his view, the fact that attempted suicide was a criminal offence made it difficult for relatives of people who attempted suicide to report and seek medical attention knowing the consequences thereof.

“Before the amendment of this Act, it is a criminal offence for you to attempt suicide therefore families don’t open up for the person to be subjected to psychological therapy or treated or to be treated medically so that such a thing will not reoccur again.

“This is because once you open it up, the person is arrested, prosecut­ed and probably imprisoned. That doesn’t solve the problem,” Mr Ahiafor said. Realising this, the MP said “we realise that criminalising suicide does more harm to the society than good”.


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