A psychiatrist, Dr Eugene Dordoye says the stance of some parliamentarians against the decriminalization of suicide is ‘retrogressive thinking’.
Speaking to Daniel Dadzie on Joy FM’s super morning show, Dr Dordoye said suicide survivors should not be imprisoned but rather be treated as they have a mental condition.
“To say that because somebody has an illness so let’s punish him is just akin to saying that somebody is obese, doctors have told him to lose weight… since they are likely to die and that means we should punish them for not losing weight,” he noted
Some members of parliament, including the First Deputy Speaker, Joe Osei Owusu and Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, last week rubbished calls for the decriminalisation of suicide in parliament.
Reacting to the call by the ranking member for the Health Committee, Kwabena Minta Akandoh, to amend the country’s laws to decriminalise attempted suicide, Haruna Iddrisu said the status quo must remain to deter people from even contemplating the act.
But Dr. Dordoye is of the view that since Britain who introduced the law to Ghana in the colonial era and other countries have already repealed it, there’s no need for the nation to hold on to it.
“…this is retrogressive thinking that people who are sick should be punished and it is nowhere that we can legislate to treat people. We don’t use laws to treat any condition so parliament should look at this… these are people we cannot provide good mental health care for but rather we are punishing them for being sick.”
He also refuted the Deputy Speaker’s claim that nobody in the country has ever been jailed for suicide.
He said, “in 2011 one Kwadwo Ababio was jailed for three months. In 2015, another man, Enoch Kogo who attempted suicide was jailed for two years… that means that people who are productive if we send them to jail because they are ill then we lose our brain potential.”
Dr Eugene Dordoye said the existence of the law does not only prevent survivors from telling their story but also makes it difficult for studies to be carried out on suicidal behaviour in the country.
“I talk to many young people with bipolar who have attempted suicide before and as a doctor, if this law remains in the book it means that I have to report all of them because they all committed a crime.”
“I wanted to get some young people to come out to share their stories… unfortunately, I couldn't secure them immunity from prosecution. If they come they’re going to confess to a crime,” he added.