Parliament Divided Over Suicide

Ghana’s Parliament has splintered into two opposing sides of moralists and liberalists, over the subject of the country’s continued criminalization of attempted suicide.

The liberals, led by the Member of Parliament for Juaboso, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, are demanding the decriminalization of unsuccessful attempts at self-slaughter, while the moralists, led by Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrissu are saying nay, suicide, whether successful or not is criminal behaviour.

Today the two sides had a skirmish on the floor of the August House that ended inconclusively.

Dr. Clement Apaak, MP for Builsa South, read the statement on behalf of the liberals, claiming that attempted suicide is a psychological problem that has nothing to do with crime, even though ultimately human life is under the custodianship of the state.

“Mr. Speaker, attempted suicide was criminalized in 1961 only a year after it was codified in Ghana as a crime under the Criminal Offences Act of 1960 section 29. in some of our sister African countries, the act is not considered a crime as we have in Ghana

“Mr. Speaker, I will call for the decriminalization of attempted suicide, it is neither an acceptance nor endorsement for a person’s desire to take his or her own life but rather, evidence from scientific research, an attempt to criminalize it cannot constitute a view of effectively dealing with it,” Dr. Apaak had read on behalf of Hon. Akandoh.

Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrissu, however sharply countered by claiming that any person’s predisposition to suicide is exhibiting an abnormal and illegal behaviour that is naturally criminal.

“It should be criminalized because it is not normal behaviour, it is not acceptable behaviour. You don’t say that when you have depression when you are depressed, the ultimate thing is that you will go and take your life, you can’t recover your life back. If we don’t criminalize it as a country, then you are saying that it is normal and good behaviour, it cannot be,” Hon. Haruna Iddrissu said.

He said, rather than expunge suicide from the criminal code, he said the government should provide more jobs for the youth to remove them from the temptation to commit suicide.

As the Lawmakers argue about expunging suicide from Ghana’s Criminal Code, it is estimated that every year, 1,500 Ghanaians take their lives.


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