A total of 417 Ghanaians attempted suicide from January to June this year.
This is according to the Mental Health Authority in its press release dated September 10.
The Authority noted that “these figures could potentially even be higher than we know.”
To commemorate Suicide Prevention Day held on the tenth day of September annually, the Authority shed light on the statistics as part of its mandate to create awareness and also canvass support to end the phenomenon that is no respecter of persons, gender or age.
“This unfortunate behaviour is not peculiar to a particular age group, sex, profession but occurs across all the social classes and demographic variables. One person dying by suicide is disturbing and these suicide figures are painfully far too high. There must be a concerted effort to end this phenomenon.”
This year’s theme is dubbed “A renewed worldwide commitment to preventing suicides: creating hope through action”.
According to the Authority, the country has been hit with these concerns as media reports tell of such happenings taking place daily.
In 2018, the number of people who attempted suicide was 797. The numbers increased to 880 in 2019. However, it dropped to 777 in 2020.
To be able to save the lives of many who decide to take their own lives, major signs to look out for, the Authority noted include openly expressing the intention to kill oneself, withdrawal from family, friends, and society, expressing no sense of purpose in life, no point in living, painting, writing, and talking about death, dying or suicide.
“These are warning signs that we must all be familiar with. Indeed, these signs are a means of communicating to every other person that they would really appreciate some help to prevent them from killing themselves.
“These are easy simple notifiable warning signs that signify a cry for help, and we must promptly act to help,” the statement added.
Such persons, the Authority suggested should be taken to a psychologist, psychiatrist, counsellor or to a medical facility for assistance.
Meanwhile, the Mental Health Authority has opposed sanctioning persons who failed to take their own lives.
The Authority argues that such actions worsen the plight of the individual who has been unable to get the needed support from society.
“Simply put, these individuals have cried for help, we failed them. They took action to kill themselves and equally failed to kill themselves. Must we punish them when they had cried for help? Definitely not! But our current law criminalises suicide. They do not deserve punishment but simply need psychological support. Punishment worsens their plight and prevents them from being useful members of their community.
“However, there is enough evidence to show that psychological support can make them, once again, useful, and valuable members to their communities.”
The Criminal Code of Ghana, Act 29 of Ghana, Section 57; Subsection II, 1960, provides that “whoever attempts to commit suicide shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.”
Thus, a person who attempts suicide is subject to arrest and prosecution and is made to face criminal sanctions upon conviction
Again, the Authority is appealing to corporate organisations and telecommunication organisations to help establish a suicide prevention call centre as such costs is beyond the capabilities of the Authority.
2021 Press release from the Mental Health Authority