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Ghana celebrates World Suicide Prevention Day

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About 200,000 senior high school (SHS) students have attempted to take their lives in the last 12 months, the Ghana Psychological Association (GPA) has said, as it marks this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD).

According to the association, currently in Ghana, two out of every 10 SHS students have attempted committing suicide in the last 12 months, with three out of every 10 students also having attempted suicide in junior high schools in the country (JHS).

Similarly, one in 10 deaf school going adolescents have in the last one year attempted taking their lives, while, in second cycle schools in the country, two in 10 students have considered doing same through intentional self-injury and poisoning.

GPA has noted, recent evidence also indicated that two out of five adolescents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) have engaged in self-poisoning or injurious behaviours.

Aside this, among the security services, about three in 10 policemen in urban communities had had thoughts of taking their own lives in the last 12 months, while, displaced staff and survivors of the recent banking sector reforms have contemplated and attempted to commit suicide.

It has become evidential that among the Ghanaian youth, school and family related issues such as bullying, poor academic performance, substance use, parental neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and financial constraints have implicated many adolescent suicide.

In addition, cyberbullying, romantic relationship crisis, dishonesty and shame are causes of suicide among adolescents and the youth, the GPA has noted.

Meanwhile, in marking this year’s celebration on the theme, “Working together to prevent suicide” the GPA has called for a multifaceted approach to among the Ghana Health Service, Ghana Education Service, psychologists, parents, and individuals,  achieve the needed results in preventing suicide.

Speaking to the Ghanaian Times yesterday, the president of GPA, Dr Collins Badu Agyemang, said, as part of this year’s WSPD, the association has embarked on a series of campaigns and would engage parliamentarians, researchers, parents, media, and relevant stakeholders on the need to decriminalise suicide attempts and also intensify campaigns in ending suicide in the country.

He also called on government to ensure that, in junior and senior high schools with a population of about 200 students, there should be either a permanent psychologist or a temporal staff who would attend to mental health issues that affect students.

Dr Agyemang, however, expressed worry that there haven’t been any clear indication of a mental health programme in the manifestos that have been delivered by various political parties in this year’s elections.

Among Ghanaian adults, the GPA has mentioned that most men use suicide as a means of escape from their inability to provide materially for one’s nuclear and extended families, inability to perform sexually and produce children.

With women, it has become known that most women who live oppressive marital, family and community contexts kill themselves when they have no option for seeking redress, while, the labelling of older women as witches was also a risk for suicide among the aged, the GPA has observed.

The association has underscored that the fight against suicide prevention requires leadership at both the governmental and political levels, and has therefore called on such bodies to show more commitment in prioritising and investing in improving the mental health of citizens.

BY FRANCIS NTOW

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