The Mental Health Authority (MHA) has appealed to corporate and telecommunication organisations to support the Authority to establish a suicide prevention call centre.
The Authority said a dedicated 24/7 toll free suicide prevention call centre with professionals to counsel people would be very ideal.
“These toll-free lines come at a cost that cannot be borne by the Mental Health Authority (MHA) at the moment.”
In a release issued to the Ghana News Agency on Friday, in Accra, to mark this year’s Suicide Prevention Day, the Authority also appealed to partners in the suicide awareness campaign and media partners not to relent in their efforts to keep the advocacy going on.
The theme for the celebration is: “A renewed worldwide commitment to prevent suicides: creating hope through action”.
“The MHA extends an open arms invitation to the telecommunications and private organisations to join us in this advocacy. Everyone must make a personal commitment to acquire some knowledge on mental health and particularly the warning signs of suicidal thoughts because using this knowledge can save somebody’s life.”
It said over the years the day had been celebrated to raise awareness about the risk factors and premeditating causes of suicide and also to inform the populace about the prevention strategies for suicide and management of suicide ideation.
“The overall objective is to reduce to the barest minimum the number of suicides and suicide attempts. Education about suicide has been become very necessary now more than before because several individuals are severely impacted by various issues that push them to decide to die by suicide, contributing to the painful global statistics that somebody dies by suicide every 40 seconds.”
The release said, “Ghana has been hit by the phenomenon and media reportage on suicide has been uncomfortably common, an everyday occurrence, and the statistics confirms the media reportage.”
“In 2018 the number of people who attempted suicide was 797. This incidence increased to 880 in 2019 and marginally dropped to 777 in 2020. As of June 2021, that is just mid-year, 417 people have been recorded as attempting suicide. There are others that are also not reported because of stigma and fear of community repercussions, thus the figures could potentially even be higher than this.”
It said this unfortunate behaviour was not peculiar to a particular age group, sex, profession but occurred across all the social classes and demographic variables. One person dying by suicide was disturbing and these suicide figures were painfully far too high and as such there must be a concerted effort to end the phenomenon.
The release noted “that if any person who has suicidal thoughts and intends to act, exhibits behaviours, or expresses thoughts that are indicative of the action they intend to pursue, these are warning signs that we must all be familiar with.
“These signs are a means of communicating to every other person that they would really appreciate some help to prevent them from killing themselves.”
These warning signs are a “cry for help”, and include openly expressing the intention to kill oneself, withdrawal from family, friends, and society, expressing no sense of purpose in life, no point in living, painting, writing, and talking about death, dying or suicide, expressing hopelessness.
“This is also why the object of decriminalising suicide in our statutes is of essence because these individuals have cried for help, but we failed them. They took action to kill themselves and equally failed to kill themselves. But our current law criminalises suicide. They do not deserve punishment but simply need psychological support.”
The release said “punishment worsens their plight and prevents them from being useful members of their community. However, there was enough evidence to show that psychological support could make them, once again, useful, and valuable members to their communities.”
It assured the public that professional help was available in the country to assist families and individuals who find themselves in such situations, saying a visit to a psychologist, psychiatrist, counsellor and to a medical facility was a source of help.
“In the midst of this difficulty, there are personal temporary phonelines used as helplines and were available to support individuals in crisis, including national helplines 020-000-9997 and 050-344-4793. The helplines for the regions are 055-538-3056, Ashanti, 020-922-8954, Brong, 024-425-5594, Central, 024-401-4348, Eastern, 024-424-9928, Greater Accra, 024-450-8838, Northern, 024-395-0520, Upper West, 020-630-4788, Upper East, 024-267-1862, Volta, and 024-489-0018 Western Regions