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MENTAL HEALTH AUTHORITY

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release.

10th September 2019.

WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY - WORKING TOGETHER TO


PREVENT SUICIDE: MAKING SUICIDE PREVENTION A NATIONAL
RESPONSIBILITY

A year ago this day, the Mental Health Authority together with the Ministry of Health
and several other stakeholders were all over various media platforms, groups and
institutions including social bodies such as churches, mosques and other social
groupings to discuss and look at ways of working together to prevent suicide in our
society.

Its 2019, and we are talking about suicide prevention again. This is because after the
supposed awareness creation campaigns carried out in 2018, we have still lost a good
number of our citizens to suicide, the most recent one, a final year medical student who
could not cope with having to retake his final exams again. Every day, we lose many lives
to suicide, and many more are profoundly impacted by their deaths. The mental Health
Authority and all who have been involved in the campaign to prevent suicide in Ghana
recognize the numerous people in our communities who have to live with the challenges
of suicidal ideation, and those who have lost loved ones through suicide.

The WHO has shown that a person dies every 40 seconds by suicide worldwide, with 25
more people making an attempt at suicide. This puts the data of persons dying averagely
per year to suicide at approximately 800,000 and Ghana has its fair share of this
number. The consequence of this phenomenon is the many more people who are left
bereaved by suicide or have been close to someone who has made an attempt. Every life
lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend or colleague. For each suicide
approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected. This amounts to
108 million people per year who are profoundly impacted by suicidal behaviour. These
people often go through a life changing experience which when not properly dealt with,
leaves such deep scars with them for the rest of their lives that impact on the quality of
life of these persons and their contribution to national economic growth.

This is why once again, we are back a year on to commemorate World Suicide
Prevention Day and under the same theme as last year’s “working together to
prevent suicide”. We now have more than ever, that responsibility to encourage every
Ghanaian to engage with each other and to join together to spread awareness of suicide
prevention.

Suicide is the result of a convergence of genetic, psychological, social, cultural and other
risk factors, sometimes combined with experiences of trauma and loss. People who take
their own lives represent a heterogeneous group, with unique, complex and multifaceted
causal influences preceding their final act. Such heterogeneity presents challenges for
suicide prevention experts. These challenges can be overcome by adopting a multilevel
and cohesive approach to suicide prevention. Preventing suicide is often possible and
you are a key player in its prevention! You can make a difference - as a member of
society, as a child, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a neighbour. There are
many things that you can do daily, and also on World Suicide Prevention Day to prevent
suicidal behaviour. You can raise awareness about the issue, educate yourself and others
about the causes of suicide and warning signs for suicide, show compassion and care for
those who are in distress in your community, question the stigma associated with
suicide, suicidal behaviour and mental health problems and share your own
experiences.

The Mental Health Authority has over the past year observed the increased reportage on
suicide in the dailies and other social media networks in the country. We are touched by
these occurrences and commiserate with the families and loved ones of these persons
who, for some reason, have had to suffer death because they found no help during their
time of deep pain and difficulties.

As an Authority, we have maintained that every act of suicide in our society that has
been completed, has been a call for help by these persons that was not heeded to by the
community in which they live and by the institutions and bodies that have a
responsibility to ensure that such persons find help in their most vulnerable times.

The increased reportage may be a reflection of the increasing awareness of mental


health in the country and the fact that we are breaking away from the arcane identity of
suicides in our culture. It points to the realization that Ghanaians are now beginning to
appreciate and understand suicides as more of a public health issue, rather than the
perceived moral weakness or religious infraction that we have erroneously assumed it to
be. It is also a reflection that awareness creation activities that are carried out on days
like today are yielding results, particularly on the media front, and we acknowledge our
allies in the media space for a great work done to this end.

This however, is not to imply that the causative factors of suicides in the country have
minimized or been dealt with. In fact, the economic challenges in nations across the
world and especially in our nation here, coupled with the weaknesses in our social
systems contribute significantly to the decline in mental wellbeing of our populations.
There is enough evidence that persons who are unable to cope with the economic
challenges on a daily basis have persistently ranked very high on a dataset the Authority
has been collating from calls coming in on the temporary lines it put out to the general
public as suicide and mental health emergency helplines.

To this end, we are calling on government and all other related bodies particularly
private individuals and philanthropists to come on board to help deal with the
challenges of suicide in the country.

First of all, we call on the government to resource the Mental Health Authority
particularly to be able to conduct baseline research on suicides in the country. This, we
believe will help to fully appreciate the extent to which suicides are hurting our economy
and inform the type of policy and interventions required to deal with these numbers.

Secondly, we call on all institutions, particularly the publicly mandated institutions to


deal with issues of suicides, attempted or completed, to collaborate in effectively giving
meaning to the fight against suicides. These institutions which have the responsibility of
collecting and organizing data on suicides include the police service, hospitals,
mortuaries etc.
Again we call on benevolent organizations, CSOs and the general public to support the
fight against suicides in Ghana by donating towards research in suicides, annual
financing of toll free activation with the Telcos and to support persons who are referred
to clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, through their therapies and medications
when required.

The Mental Health Authority at this time commends all stakeholders who have helped
in advocacy to continuously create awareness in mental health throughout the country.
We also commend and continue to encourage the media to show greater interest in
mental health issues including suicides. Such reports keep reminding the populace of
the impending dangers that our nation faces, as it continues to lose a good number of its
productive youth to suicides.

We trust that the media, through its agenda setting role, is able to put mental health
issues at the fore front of public discussions, so as to give these silent but biting issues
the necessary attention and priority that a nation like Ghana should be giving to suicides
and mental health.

Please call our integrated call centre on the following numbers 0509497705,
0558424645 should you require any psychological/ mental health support and talk to
a mental health professional.

Contact:

DR. AKWASI OSEI


Chief Executive, Mental Health Authority – 0509914046

KWAKU BROBBEY
Head of Communications, Mental Health Authority - 0206814666