Suicide is serious public health concern – Stakeholders
They made the call at the celebration of the 2019 World Mental Health Day at Sumbrungu, a community in the Bolgatanga Municipality, on the theme, “working together to prevent suicide: a call for national action”.
The programme was organised by BasicNeeds Ghana, an advocacy organisation in collaboration with the Alliance for Mental Health and Development, a group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) with funding support from the Department for International Development (DFID).
World Mental Health Day, celebrated on October 10 each year, seeks to raise awareness about mental health issues around the world and mobilise efforts to tackle issues of mental health.
The stakeholders stated that mental illness mostly affected young people, making the country to lose some of its human resources and advocated a comprehensive multi-sectorial approach to address the canker for inclusive development.
Mr Adam Dokurugu, the Programmes Manager, BasicNeeds Ghana, said statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that globally about 800,000 persons died from suicide annually, while about 1,500 cases of suicide were recorded each year in Ghana.
He stated that “in every 40 seconds about 20 people, worldwide, attempted suicide and at least one person died from it and the age range was mostly between 15 to 29 years.”
The Programmes Manager said extreme poverty and disappointments among others were the major forces that drove people to commit suicide and said efforts must be made to intensify education on mental health issues to combat problem.
Mr Emmanuel Atokontaba, a Senior Mental Health Officer at the Sumbrungu Health Centre explained that mental health patients needed some level of assurance and called on society to prevent them from going to the extreme.
He therefore advised families to be vigilant and observant to detect unusual behaviour among family members and report them to health personnel for counseling.
He appealed to the government to resource mental health units of the various health facilities with the necessary medication to enable them respond to persons who visited the facilities.
In a speech read on his behalf, Mr Frank Adongo Fuseini, the Upper East Deputy Regional Minister, stated that aside road traffic crashes, suicide was the second leading cause of mortality globally and there was an urgent need to collectively and effectively address it.
He said the government was working to resource health facilities across the country with requisite health professionals and logistics that would administer quality services to mental patients.
He added that the Regional Coordinating Council was working hard with Municipal and District Assemblies as well as the Ghana Federation of Disability to increase the allocation of the District Assembly Common Fund to persons with mental health illness to enable them engage in economic productive activities.