Early today, a middle-aged man caught the attention of commuters who use the Obestebi Lamptey Circle. He later caught the attention of residents of the city of Accra and subsequently the entire country.
What did he do?
He had climbed the Obetsebi Lampatey Statue and he threatened to commit suicide.
He claimed he wanted to end his life because his wife had left him.
After a team of police and Ghana Fire Service officers helped to rescue the man, he was subsequently arrested.
Though many believe the man needs mental health care since he might be dealing with depression, the laws of the country gave the police the power to arrest him instead.
Section 57 of the Criminal Offences Act – 1960 (ACT 29) on the Abetment of Suicide (Attempted Suicide) states that:
(1) Whoever abets the commission of suicide by any person shall whether or not the suicide be actually committed, be guilty of first-degree felony.
(2) Whoever attempts to commit suicide shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.
This part of the act criminalizing the attempts of suicide, therefore the middle-aged man’s subsequent arrest after he was rescued today.
Time to change the law and make suicide a mental health problem instead of a criminal offence?