Criminalising Attempted Suicide Unproductive, FG Told

Omolabake Fasogbon

The federal government has been called on to initiate a new legislation that would decriminalise attempted suicide to promote support for survivors.

A mental health advocacy organisation, Asido Foundation,  made the call during an advocacy visit to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice,  Mr. Lateef Fagbemi.

The foundation stated that the legislation would put Nigeria on the same page with the global society.

The Chairman of the foundation’s board of trustee, Mr. Meka Olusola, said that the  implementation of the Mental Health Act and adopting international standards for mental health, is crucial to protect the human rights of persons with mental disorders as well as 50 million at-risk Nigerians.

He worried that criminalising  attempted suicide in the country, which attracts a penalty of one year imprisonment, remained a threat amid whopping one million deaths to suicide annually.

On his part, the Founder and CEO of the foundation, Dr. Jibril Abdulmalik, said that mental health conditions, especially depression, were behind majority of attempted suicide cases, prompting  legalisation of the act globally.

Abdulmalik said: “Individuals who attempt suicide require compassionate care and treatment in a hospital setting, rather than criminal prosecution and imprisonment. 

“Nigeria urgently needs to follow global trends and decriminalise attempted suicide to offer vital support and compassion.

“With mental health reform, Nigeria can diminish the stigma associated with mental illness, broaden access to mental health services, and enhance the overall quality of life. 

“This will contribute to economic growth and affirm mental health as a fundamental human right.”

Remarking, Fagbemi promised to take urgent action on the matter, reaffirming present administration’s  commitment to enhancing the nation’s healthcare system.

He said: “We will endeavour to carry along the state attorneys general at our upcoming meeting, where we will deliberate and take necessary action. On the Mental Health Act.

“I am confident that the Minister of Health is already giving it due consideration, we wil work together to ensure successful implementation.”

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