Suicide is considered a crime in at least 20 countries

In many countries, children can be prosecuted for attempting suicide. The United for Global Mental Health report states that in Nigeria, children as young as 7 years old can be arrested, tried and prosecuted for such behavior. In more than 20 other countries, suicide is punishable under Islamic Sharia law.

In four of the countries included in the report, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Guyana and Kenya, the will of a person judged to have committed suicide can be undermined.

Sarah Kline, co-founder of United for Global Mental Health, says:Criminalizing suicide is counterproductive, not stopping people from taking their own lives, but preventing people from seeking help in times of acute crisis as well as receiving support. needed support for their mental health“.

Dr. Lakshmi Vijayakumar, a psychiatrist in Chennai, India and founder of a suicide prevention organization, says that criminalizing laws have an impact on suicidal behavior. Accordingly, the law contributes to mental health stigma and discrimination.

These laws are no longer theoretical but directly affect the most vulnerable in the most vulnerable countries.“. Ms. Vijayakumar adds that suicide laws are generally in place in low- and middle-income countries, where 77% of suicides occur.

Suicide is considered a crime in at least 20 countries - Photo 1.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the world (Image: Tata Health)

One survivor of a suicide attempt in Pakistan’s Sindh region, who asked to remain anonymous, said police had come to her home to arrest her.

I feel guilty and stupid for trying to commit suicide“, she said.Plus, what made it worse was the way the police handled it. They humiliated my father just so they could take money from him“.

In recent years, suicide laws have been abolished or replaced with new, more equitable laws in several countries.

In the Cayman Islands, in December 2020, a campaign highlighted that only 5% of children and young people seek help because of stigma, in part due to the criminalization of suicide. Suicide is a mental health issue and not a crime.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the world. Every year, more people die from suicide than from HIV, malaria, breast cancer or even war. In 2019, more than 700,000 people died by suicide, one in every 100 deaths was by suicide, and for every person who died, 20 more attempted suicide.

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