Nigeria’s law makes it a crime to attempt suicide – there are better ways to prevent tragedy -
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Nigeria’s law makes it a crime to attempt suicide – there are better ways to prevent tragedy

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Suicide – self-inflicted injury with a fatal outcome – has been part of human history since ancient times. According to the World Health Organization, about 700,000 suicides occur across the globe every year. For every completed suicide, there are at least 20 unsuccessful attempts.

About 79% of suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries although suicide rates are highest in high income countries.

In no fewer than 20 countries, suicide is a crime. But that has never succeeded in eliminating it. Research findings show reservations as to whether legal or religious sanctions can actually serve to prevent suicides. While moral and religious objections to suicide may reduce suicidal behaviour, legal sanctions hardly have any discernible effect. For instance, in the UK, suicide rates did not increase after it was decriminalised.

In Nigeria, the legal position is that suicide is not a crime but attempted suicide is. Section 327 in the Criminal Code Act (which applies to southern Nigeria) states that:

Any person who attempts to kill himself is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment for one year.

Similarly, section 231 of the penal code (applicable to northern Nigeria) asserts that:

Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both.

Despite the criminalisation of attempted suicide in Nigeria, the rate of suicide is still considerably high at 6.9 per 100,000 of the population in 2019. This translates to roughly 7,019 people a year. The current rate is less than the average global rate of 9.0 per 100,000. While the suicide rate in Africa appears to be lower than the global average, it is still worrying.

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Impact of law

The impact of criminalising attempted suicide is multi-dimensional.

First, it turns a distressed human being into a criminal. Research has shown that about 90% of those who attempt suicide have a mental health problem. A considerable proportion – 20.8% to 35.8% – of those would be suffering from depression.

Second, it may impel the person to attempt suicide again so as not to suffer the legal consequences.

Third, it distracts society from focusing on care and treatment. Instead, it directs resources towards punishment, which has not been shown to have any significant deterrent effect.

Need to decriminalise suicide

There are several good reasons to urgently decriminalise attempted suicide in Nigeria.

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First, it is inconsistent to legally define as a crime the attempt of something that in itself is not a crime.

Second, the legal definition of an attempt comprises intention, preparation and the actual attempt. Legal deterrents can only confront deteriorating mental well-being at the last stage – attempted suicide. Mental health assessments on the other hand could easily identify the earliest stages of suicidal ideation (intention) and preparation. In terms of effectiveness of deterrence, help is better than punishment. Research has shown that most that attempt suicide would be suffering from mental disorders and it would be patently unjust to punish the sick instead of caring for them.

Finally, if attempted suicide wasn’t a crime, the associated stigma would be removed and people might feel more able to talk about it and obtain the help that they needed.

Suicide prevention

The WHO has formulated steps that may be taken to prevent suicide.

First, governments must provide leadership in establishing policies. Parliament should decriminalise attempted suicide so that people can get care instead. The Lagos State government, via its 2011 criminal law, has already made a move by providing a hospitalisation order in cases of attempted suicide.

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Governments must also develop and implement culturally appropriate and evidence-driven preventive interventions. It requires a vision with targets and a definite time frame.

Governments as well as citizens can play a part by reducing access to the various means of committing suicide. For example, it has been shown that 30% of suicides are achieved through the use of pesticides.

Young people also need to be helped to develop personal resilience: building life skills, improving self-esteem, developing problem-solving skills, embracing realistic optimism and even using spirituality.

The media should report suicide-related news responsibly, which will help to avoid “copycat suicides”. There are media guidelines for responsible suicide reportage.

At the family and individual level, it is crucial to give and receive social support (paying attention, active listening, sharing encouraging words) from one another. This will help distressed members of the family to cope with adversity.

Finally, early identification of people at risk (particularly those with mental disorders and recent traumatic life events) can translate into prompt treatment and the restoration of well-being….READ FULL ARTICLE

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Ndume: Tinubu Has Resolved To Be A One-term President, Nigerians Must Ensure His Defeat In 2027 – Lukman

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A former National Vice Chairman (North-west) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Salihu Lukman, has said the actions of President Bola Tinubu have suggested that he is not interested in serving a second term as Nigeria’s leader….READ FULL ARTICLE

The former APC chieftain added that both President Tinubu and the APC are charting the way to lose the 2027 presidential elections and Nigerians must help them to taste defeat.

Speaking in a statement on Thursday, against the background of the sack of Borno South Senator, Ali Ndume as the Chief Whip of the Senate on Wednesday, Lukman said it is a testament to the fact that the current administration does not want to be criticized.

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He added that the Tinubu government and the ruling APC are pushing Nigeria to the edges of dictatorial governance similar to what Nigerians witnessed during the days of military government under late General Sani Abacha.

Lukman, in a statement titled, “Fanatical Mindset,” lamented that free speech is under threat and personal liberties of the citizens are being encroached upon.

He also called out the Senate for allowing its operational independence to be rubbished after Ndume was removed based on a letter signed by the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje, arguing that there was nowhere in the APC

Constitution where the National Chairman, National Secretary, or any official, or even the National Working Committee, is given the powers to summarily remove any principal officer of the National Assembly.

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The former chieftain said it is a shame that the APC and the Senate Caucus got involved in such acts of illegality.

He said:“The way things are, it is almost as if President Asiwaju Tinubu has resolved that he will only be a one term President. Under his watch, the living conditions of Nigerians is continuously getting worse. Instead of making effort to develop clear plans to address the situation, the government is becoming more intolerant to criticism.

“Any democracy that cannot accommodate criticism is no democracy. A democracy that subverts fair hearing is a dictatorship. A democracy that permits a ruling party to demobilise its organs and inadvertently expels its members is worse than a military government.”

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“So long as APC, its leadership and Asiwaju Tinubu’s government have taken the self-destructive path, which is equivalent to a declaration of working end their tenure in 2027, patriotic Nigerians must help them to ensure their defeat in 2027!”…READ FULL ARTICLE

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20 Trucks of Rice: It will not get to those suffering. The Tinubu government isn’t ready to listen to advice – Primate Ayodele

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Primate Elijah Ayodele, leader of the INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, has criticized the Nigerian federal government for distributing trucks of rice to state governments. He said the initiative would only result in increased corruption and hardship, as governors are indifferent to the needs of the impoverished….READ FULL ARTICLE

In a statement by his media aide, Oluwatosin Osho, Ayodele asserted that the rice would not reach those truly in need, but would instead be distributed among party members.

He also claimed President Tinubu’s administration was unwilling to heed constructive advice.

He said;‘’There is no way this will get to the needy, those who are suffering

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“The Tinubu government isn’t ready to listen to advice. They are not doing what is feasible, Nigerians are hungry and angry, everyone is affected, the president must be careful.

‘’Sending trucks of rice to governors that don’t care about the needs of the people, that don’t share in people’s pains, is tantamount to arbitrary corruption. They will give it to their party members, loyalists and even hoard it.

“Why is this government not listening? The more you bring such, the more the hardship. The truck of rice will only increase hardship and poverty, that’s not the solution.’’

‘’This is simple mathematics, like God revealed to Pharaoh about famine, God has revealed to prophets the situation of Nigeria, we have said this in 2022 about what Nigeria will experience, it is better the government listens before it kills the economy.

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‘’The government should have taken the trucks to markets across the country and sold them at a very subsidized rate to the needy. The impact will be felt more than giving it to state governors,” he added….READ FULL ARTICLE

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He Is Always Talking About My Structure, My Structure, What Are The Structures For? -Dan Nwanyanwu

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According to the report from the Sun, the chairman of the Zenith Labour Party, Dan Nwanyanwu acknowledged that Nyesom Wike possesses significant influence within the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at both the state and national levels….READ FULL ARTICLE

He questioned the purpose of these political structures that Wike frequently refers to as his

own, highlighting the fact that these structures existed before Wike’s rise to power.

He suggested that while there might not be explicit evidence in the form of written or verbal statements, the influence and impact of these

structures are evident to those familiar with the inner workings of politics.

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He said, “He (Wike) has the structure of PDP and Rivers, he has the structure of PDP in Rivers, he has the structure of PDP at the national,

and he’s always talking about my structure, my structure, what are the structures for? Somebody had them before you came, you see if you’re looking for evidence that something is written or that something is said,

you won’t find it, if you’re in that game, and you know how these things work, the evidence is everywhere.”…READ FULL ARTICLE

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