Henceforth, attempted suicide will no longer be treated as a criminal case in Ghana, but rather a mental health one in which the person who attempted to take his or her life would be considered a victim and provided mental health assistance.
This follows an amendment to the sections of the Criminal Offenses Act of 1960 which hitherto criminalized suicide for which victims were arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to imprisonment.
Some Ghanaian health experts have been advocating for the law to be amended, arguing that suicide is a medical condition that needs health support rather than imprisonment for anybody who attempted it.
When the amendment was proposed, some some people including legislators spoke against it and insisted that it remain a criminal offence.
One such lawmaker is the former Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu. He is reported to have described an attempt to take one’s life as unacceptable behaviour in 2019. According to citinewsroom.com, he argued that anybody who tried to commit suicide must rather be punished to serve as a deterrent to others. In his view, making attempted suicide a punishable offence would make Ghanaians understand that was nothing to gain from killing oneself.
Calls for an amendment to the old law have always been underscored by the fact that over 1,500 cases of suicide are reported nationwide every year.
Thankfully, after years of resistance, the long-anticipated amendment has seen the light of day. It happened on Tuesday, March 28.