It has emerged that more youth in Ghana are committing suicide in recent times, with persons as young as 11 years attempting to take their lives one way or the other.
This was revealed by the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Authority, Dr. Akwesi Osei who indicated that the rate is quite alarming. He blamed the media squarely for being a contributor to the phenomenon which hitherto was prevalent in adults 40 years and above.
The Authority has also called for the decriminalization of ‘attempted cases’ of suicide in Ghana adding that about 95% of persons who attempted suicide, suffer from a mental condition and must seek medical help rather than punishing them.
Ghana’s Criminal code 1960, Act 29, Section 57, Sub section 2 criminalises attempted suicide and this has been adopted into our statute books from the colonial masters.
Dr. Osei says state authorities including the police, judiciary, families etc should help change laws governing suicide attempts in Ghana.
Speaking to TV3 on the sidelines of a program to mark ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ Dr. Osei said “In the past if you heard someone attempting suicide or committing suicide, it’s a 40, 50 or 60 year old person. Now 11, 12 13 year olds are attempting suicide.
“Unfortunately the media is the culprit in this matter. The news of suicide is certainly newsworthy and you’ll report it but please don’t report the details of how the person when about it. That’s very important.”
Statistics available from a group known as Network for Anti Suicide and Crisis Prevention revealed that in May 2012 alone, close to 1,556 people committed suicide in Ghana.
Out of the number 1,129 of the victims were men and 427 women. Persons aged 9-19 were 531.
Most common means used by the victims were self hanging, poisoning and using the gun etc.