Group canvasses decriminalisation amid 703,000 yearly deaths from suicide
United for Global Mental Health (UGMH) has said more than 703,000 persons exit the world yearly through suicide. The leadership, in a statement yesterday in Jalingo, via the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), said 77 per cent of the deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries.
Issued by the Project and Research Officer of CJID, Eyitomi Alao, the statement was in commemoration of the World Suicide Prevention Day, which highlighted prevention of suicide and end to the accompanying stigma.
Listing efforts so far to tame the menace, UGMH’s Chief Executive Officer, Sarah Kline, stated: “We have been working with national and international partners across the globe to campaign and advocate for decriminalisation of suicide .
“We know that when people feel like they can ask for support without punishment or discrimination, they are much more likely to seek the help they need.”
While noting that over the past year, Guyana, Pakistan, Ghana and Malaysia have made landmark reforms to decriminalise suicide, Klein regretted that Nigeria, Kenya and Bangladesh remain among the nations where the menace is criminalised.
“There are still at least 23 countries across the world where suicide is a criminal offence, with some laws often dating back to more than a century, often a legacy of colonial British rule,” she said.
In countries where suicide is illegal, people, who attempt the act, according to her, “face punishment of anything from a fine to up to three years in prison.”
Aligning with the World Health Organisation (WHO), criminalisation of suicide attempts, she said, does not deter suicidal behaviour, “but in fact stops people from seeking the support they need.”
The UGMH boss, therefore, called on policymakers, healthcare professionals, mental health advocates and legal authorities, to put in place measures that would promote a world, where individuals facing mental health challenges receive the support, care and understanding they need.
“Suicide decriminalisation is a critical step towards developing essential country-specific suicide prevention measures and supportive methods for addressing mental health and suicide-related issues, ultimately decreasing suicide prevalence and increasing mental well-being for all,” she added.
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