Need I say that on several occasions I have contemplated suicide? Well, I have. When I first failed Mathematics in my WASSCE, when I thought I could never make it to the university because of financial issues and on several other very tough times in my life. Fortunately for me, I was able to psyche myself out of committing suicide. But many people have fallen victim to it (suicide).
The last reported case of suicide in Ghana was on Friday September 6, 2019. It was a third year medical student of the University of Ghana who had allegedly taken his own life for failing an exams. Several of such cases have happened before but what critical attention has been given to this increasing inclination to commit suicide among the youth? Most often the issue is reported, condolences are expressed both in person and on social media and then it ends there. But how does that solve the problem?
While section 57 of the Criminal and Other Offences Act of Ghana criminalizes the abetment of suicide commission and attempted suicide, you can only apprehend the individual if he is caught in the process or even fails at it. But what is being done to conscientize individuals to not contemplate suicide? Indeed, section 57 reads, “Whoever abets the commission of suicide by any person shall whether or not the suicide be actually committed be guilty of first degree felony.” Whoever attempts to commit suicide shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” I’ll leave it for the lawyers and Judges to interpret what to abet the commission of suicide really means but the fact is that suicide has been very rampant in Ghana and there appears to be little attention in that direction.
Today, September 10, 2019 just like every year is World Suicide Prevention Day. But how many people have heard of it and what attention has been given to it? Is there any lecture happening on suicide today? What, is it because it doesn’t profit the nation in anyway?
The Daily graphic reported on September 15, 2015 that Ghana records 1,500 suicide cases annually. That is a whopping number of people committing suicide every year and this is caused mainly by depression. A 2017 article on citifmonline.com reports that Dr Akwasi Osei, the Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health of Ghana said “in every single reported case of suicide there were four unreported cases and this brings the number of the unreported cases to about 6,000 annually.”
Several factors are known to cause suicide but popular amongst them include depression, failure, rejection, seclusion, grief, and drug addiction. My sociology lessons also taught me that according to the French Sociologist, Emile Durkheim, decrease in social integration can cause depression. These underlying causes of suicide needs to be tackled and dealt with from a professional point of view.
A lot of students contemplate suicide for a number of reasons like the ones already mentioned, and some like the 16 years old boy from Tarkwa in 2018, the University of Professional Studies student on January 28, 2019, the Legon medical student in 2019 actually do go through with the act.
The media space is rife with suicide matters mostly when the act is committed. All forms of discussion about it ceases afterwards. And there is not enough education about it. Both government agencies and private agencies aren’t doing enough to help curb suicide in the country. The Health Ministry, both government and private hospitals and other organizations can collaborate or even single handedly intensify public education on the need to abstain from suicide. Organizations should take on suicide as a corporate social responsibility to save lives. Getting professional help when it comes to suicide shouldn’t be a privilege but a necessity. There should be professional counselors at all levels of our education institutions from the basic level to the highest level and also at work places to engage people who may be going through tough times.
As country, we can’t continue to be idle while suicide continues to take away young lives. Something radical needs to be done about it and the time to act is now. The media has to keep the conversation going while everyone does their best to ensure that the person next to them isn’t contemplating suicide. We need to save each other.
My name is Yussif Ahmed, I am now a graduate of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), the premier communications university in Ghana and one of the best across Africa. Imagine I committed suicide because I thought I couldn’t make it this far, I would have done a very great disservice to myself, my family, and the entire world. You can also make it if you stick around, work hard and keep your head in the game. It is never too late to achieve your aims and maximize your potential.
Let’s keep talking…… suicide is not an option.