- 10th of September is World suicide Prevention Day
- WHO developed an implementation guide for suicide prevention in countries in 2021
World Suicide Prevention Day which is marked on the 10th of September each year was established in 2003 by the International Association of suicide prevention in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO)
This day aims to focus attention on the issue, reduce stigma and raises awareness among organizations, governments, and the public, giving a singular message that suicides are preventable.
Origin of Criminalisation of Suicide In Kenya
According to Mathew Mutiso,a mental health advocate,the origin of the criminalization of suicide in countries such as Kenya are legacies of the colonial era.
He says the legislation is not based on what is needed for each country but rather what was imposed by an outside force.
”Most countries are seeking to overturn legislation that is out of date. More recently is Ghana and Pakistan” added Mathew Mutiso
Journey to decriminalize attempted suicide in Kenya
A constitutional petition no E045 of 2022 filled by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights amongst others is seeking to repeal section 226 of our penal code to decriminalize attempted suicide is currently in the high court of Kenya.
October 2020, the Mental Health Task force tendered its report whereby one of its key recommendations ,is the revision of mental health legislation to conform with the Constitution of Kenya and decriminalize attempted suicide.
The WHO developed an implementation guide for suicide prevention in countries in 2021 “Live Life”, containing evidence-based interventions for suicide prevention and it is pertinent to highlight that criminalization of suicide is not one of them. Instead, WHO recommends the decriminalization of suicide as a means to advance suicide prevention throughout “Live Life”.
Impact of criminalization of suicide on Families
Criminalization has a major impact on the families of people who engage in suicidal behavior
The families of individuals who attempt suicide or suicidal behavior go through trauma on account of the health of their loved one and are made to suffer considerable stigma from society.
Families are shunned by neighbors and relatives.
Decriminalization of suicide will help improve measurement of the extent and characteristics of suicidal behavior, which in turn enhances opportunities for effective suicide prevention and intervention.
In order to prevent suicide, we need to have accurate data to identify who is at risk and how to best help them.
Treating attempted suicide as criminal behaviour leads to an underestimation of the ‘true’ extent of suicidal behavior and its (clinical, psycho social and other) characteristics.