The Mental Health Leadership and Advocacy Programme (mhLAP) and Mental Health Society of Ghana (MEHSOG), yesterday, September 10th 2017, joined hands with others around the world who are working towards the common goal of preventing suicide, to observe Suicide Prevention Day.
The year 2017 marks the 15th world suicide prevention day. The day was first recognized in 2003 as an initiative of the International Association for Suicide prevention and endorsed by the World Health Organization.
Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt. Behind these statistics are the individual stories of those who have, for many different reasons, questioned the value of their own lives.
The above sentiments which mhLAP and MEHSOG very much want to associate with on this very special occasion, is reflected in the theme for the 2017 World Suicide Prevention Day:
“Take a minute,
change a life”
As members of our communities it is our responsibility to look out for those who may be struggling. We must do all we can to check with them and encourage them to tell their story in their own way and at their own pace.
Again, as community members, even the offer of a gentle word of support and listening in a non-judgemental way could make all the difference between someone taking his/her life or helping that someone to overcome it. Indeed taking a minute of our time to intervene can change a life.
Suicide Experts attest to the fact that many people who have survived suicide attempts usually have a lot to teach us about how kind words and actions of others are important in stopping an attempt at suicide.
Such people usually make extremely moving revelations about how they had reached a point they could not see any alternative to taking their own lives. They also recount the days and hours leading up to this.
Equally touching is that they describe how in reality they did not want to die, but rather wished that there was an intervention of a sort. Yet other suicide survivors describe how they had desperately sought someone who would realize their hopeless or desperate situation and ask whether they were alright, so they have the opportunity to tell the person what is bothering them so that they could be allowed to intervene to help save their lives.
Sadly, people who have attempted suicide have often reflected that no one asked. Almost uniformly the individuals who make these revelations had said if someone had taken a minute and intervened, the trajectory they were on would have been interrupted and changed.
It is on the basis of all the above that mhLAP and MEHSOG is calling on all of us as citizens and as community members to show more compassion and empathy to those who we can help to turn things around for them and direct them towards recovery.
At the policy level, mhLAP and MEHSOG wishes to use this platform to call on Parliament to speed up action on passing the Legislative Instrument (LI) which would operationalize the Mental Health Bill passed in 2012. It is unfortunate that this all-important piece of legislation has remained in limbo for five years!
We also call on the media, CSOs and the good citizens of Ghana to support this call by mhLAP and MEHSOG and others in mental health to increase awareness around suicide prevention.