In line with the global observance of the World Suicide Prevention Day annually held on 10th September, the Association for Suicide Prevention Ghana (GASP) has called on various stakeholders to join in the fight against suicide.
In light of the intense mental suffering that those in suicidal states of mind experience, the World Health Organization (WHO) and GASP have chosen a three-year theme for World Suicide Prevention Day from 2021-2023: “Creating hope through action”.
In a press release by GASP, it stated that the theme serves as an urgent reminder that suicide is not the only option in desperate times; by taking action, hope can be fostered with prevention efforts bolstered.
The association is committed to creating awareness on mental health issues and providing support for persons with mental health challenges. GASP believes that suicide prevention requires a multi-sectoral approach and has encouraged stakeholders to join forces in creating an enabling environment for effective suicide prevention.
“As a complex, multifaceted problem, suicide occurs at the juncture of multiple factors that can be psychiatric, psychological, biological, social, cultural, economic, and existential in nature. Considering this complexity, suicide prevention requires multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary stakeholder collaborations.”
GASP remarked that the country lacks a national registry for recording suicide cases, making it difficult to accurately measure the prevalence of suicide in Ghana.
“Ghana does not have a national registry for recording suicide cases. However, crude statistics are usually obtained from the police and newspapers show an increasing trend. The WHO (2020) reports that approximately 1993 suicides occur in Ghana annually.”
“A 4-year suicide attempt trends report in Ghana released by the Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed that 707 suicide attempts occurred in the year 2018, 880 attempts in 2019, and 777 attempts in 2020 with 417 attempts recorded as of June 2021,” the statement added.
GASP commended the Ghana Legislature for amending the Criminal Code to decriminalise attempted suicide, believing this will reduce stigma and encourage people to seek help.
However, GASP has highlighted that decriminalisation alone is not enough to drastically reduce suicide rates and is calling for a National Suicide Prevention Plan with unified approach.
GASP urged individuals to show compassion towards those who may have expressed a wish to die or attempted suicide instead of punishing them. The association announced it provided assistance through its team of trained professionals.
“The Association for Suicide Prevention Ghana (GASP) commends the efforts of Ghana’s Legislature, especially the Honourable Members of Parliament who sponsored the Private Member’s Bill that led to the amendment.”
“While lauding this great effort, GASP also calls attention to the fact that decriminalisation alone does not necessarily lead to drastic reductions in suicide, unless there is political will to equip health facilities and help centres with the needed logistics and personnel to be able to receive and support the increasing numbers of people who might want to go there to seek help.”
Here is the full aforementioned document.
Story by : Henrietta Owusua | univers.ug.edu.gh