The Mental Health Authority (MHA)of Ghana is pushing for decriminalization of suicide as it intends to engage Attorney General’s Department next week to help expunge laws that make suicidal behavioural patterns criminal in Ghana.
According to the Deputy CEO of MHA, Dr. Caroline Amissah, criminalization of suicide makes it difficult for people to seek help and freely confide in people their willingness to take their lives. According to the World Health Organization, a person dies every 40 seconds from suicide worldwide, with 25 more people making an attempt. This puts the data of persons dying averagely per year to suicide at approximately 800,000 and Ghana has its fair share of this number.
Speaking at the 2020 World Mental Health Day Celebration Press launch by Mental Health Authority in Accra, Deputy CEO Dr. Caroline Amissah said:
“We’ll intensify talks with Attorney General’s Department next week to see how best we can decriminalise suicide. Instead of prosecuting them, every person identified to have considered or attempted any form of suicide must immediately seek help from psychiatrist or clinical psychologist”.
According to the Board Chair of MHA, Lawyer Estelle Appiah, 1 in 5 people in Ghana have mental problem, 7% of Ghana’s GDP is lost to mental health issues, about 1,500 suicides are committed annually in Ghana. In view of this, Lawyer Estelle Appiah said “We need to invest a lot and to ensure that mental health treatment is available in countrywide and Ghana needs to decriminalise suicide just as South Africa, Gambia have done”.
Meanwhile, General Secretary of Christian Council of Ghana Rev. Dr. Cyril Gershorn K. Fayose wants the church to collaborate with government to tackle head-on issues of mental health in Ghana. According to him, “The 2020 World mental health week celebration is a call on all of us to strengthen advocacy, partnerships with the state to tackle mental health issues of the vulnerable in society”.
On her part, PRO of Ghana Psychological Association Joy Anima Debra wants government to immediately increase resources allocated for mental health management in the country.
The 2020 World Mental Health Day is scheduled for October, 10. Mental Health Authority’s local theme for this year’s celebration in Ghana is “Mental Health for All : Greater Investment -Greater Access The Power of the Voice towards decriminalisation of suicide.