UGMH advises African governments to decriminalize suicide

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The United for Global Mental Health (UGMH), has advised government across Africa to decriminalize suicide.

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This statement was released by the United for Global Mental Health (UGMH) to commemorate the World Suicide Prevention Day.

The charge came after new data revealed that Guyana, Pakistan, and Malaysia have made landmark reforms to decriminalize suicide.

UGMH therefore said African countries should emulate the new trend.

“Ground-breaking legislative changes not only act as the first step towards ending the stigma of suicide and suicidal thoughts, there is a better chance of people coming forward to ask for support before it’s too late.”

However, there are still at least 23 countries across the world where suicide is a criminal offence, with some laws often dating back more than a century, often a legacy of colonial British rule.

“At United for Global Mental Health, we have been working with national and international partners across the globe to campaign and advocate for the decriminalisation of suicide,” said Sarah Kline, CEO of UGMH.

“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.

“It is vital countries where suicide is still a crime such as Bangladesh, Kenya, decriminalise laws relating to suicide and suicide attempts,” Klaine added.

She therefore, said stakeholders from various sectors, including policymakers, healthcare professionals, mental health advocates, and legal authorities, should promote a world where individuals facing mental health challenges receive the support, care, and understanding they need.

Commemoration
The World Health Organisation (WHO), and the International Association for Suicide Prevention mark September 10 as World Suicide Prevention Day.

It is a day designed to send a message to the world, that suicide can be prevented and the stigma surrounding suicide needs to end.

According to the WHO, criminalisation of suicide attempts does not deter suicidal behavior, but in fact stops people from seeking the support they need.

It also leads to under-reporting of suicide and suicide attempts, making it harder to implement community based prevention plans.

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