A Consultant psychiatrist, Dr. Eugene Dordoye, has emphasised the need for the country to pay attention to mental health.
The psychiatrist, who is a lecturer at the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) in Ho, said Ghana also needed to reach out to people whose work predisposed them to suicide.
He mentioned such people to include the police, fire fighters, doctors, farmers and ex-service men and women who used lethal equipment and pesticides or had access to items that could cause personal injuries.
Dr. Dordoye, who is the Head of the Department of Psychological Medicine and Mental Health of the UHAS’s School of Medicine, added that the nature of some of the jobs was traumatic, hence the need to periodically check the mental status of such people.
The psychiatrist, who is a former Medical Director of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital in Cape Coast, made the call in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra last Monday following recent cases of suicide among policemen.
He said the alleged suicide cases were reported by the media, and observed that the manner in which the stories were published could trigger more suicides.
Dr. Dordoye, therefore, advised media personnel and institutions to desist from revealing details of suicide acts in ways that sometimes portrayed victims as heroes or martyrs in their reportage.
He said that practice could embolden others, including family members of victims who might also be predisposed to suicide, to follow in that path.
Within the last 16 days, the Police Service has recorded three suspected cases of suicide among its personnel.
The first incident involved the Half Assini District Police Commander, Superintendent Cyprian Zenge, who is alleged to have shot himself.
That was followed by the incident involving Constable Eugene Yelnona, who is also alleged to have shot himself in a washroom at his duty post.
The latest incident involved Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Devine Asiam, who also reportedly shot himself at Borteyman near Ashaiman.
“The media glorifying suicide is not helpful. If we make people who die through suicide heroes, more people will die. The media must know how to report suicide. I will not be surprised that the reports might have caused the subsequent cases,” Dr. Dordoye said.
He recounted similar incidents on university campuses across the country some years ago and said what was happening was not new.
He mentioned some of the factors that could lead to suicide as depression, bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse.
Criminalisation of suicide
He described Ghana’s position of making suicide a criminal offence as primitive, saying no civilised society criminalised suicide.
“Britain, from where we took our roots, has repealed its laws on suicide, but Ghana continues to have it in its laws,” he added.
Dr. Dordoye, therefore, called for paradigm shift from the old ways of doing things to best practices, as pertained in some parts of the world.