Reps Discuss Bill To Decriminalize Attempted Suicide

Adoga Stephen By Adoga Stephen - Editor-In-Chief
3 Min Read

A proposal to eliminate jail time for attempted suicide has passed the second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill, sponsored by Francis Waive, a lawmaker representing Ughelli North/South/Udu federal constituency of Delta State, aims to change Section 327 of the Criminal Code Act, 2004.

Section 327 of the Act states that “any person who attempts to kill himself is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for one year.”

The proposed amendment by Waive suggests that instead of jail time, individuals who attempt suicide should receive mandatory counseling and community service for at least six months.

During the debate, Waive emphasized the importance of providing support and assistance to those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, rather than punishing them.

He also highlighted the need to rehabilitate and reintegrate individuals who survive suicide attempts back into society, instead of treating them as criminals.

“The economy is biting hard; things are difficult, and people are tempted here and there,” he said.

The legislator stated that mental health issues like depression, long-term substance abuse disorder, schizophrenia, mood disorder, psychosis, and other psychiatric disorders are the most common risk factors associated with suicidal behavior.

“Nearly one-third of suicidal attempts repeat the behaviour within a year and some of the attempters eventually commit suicide,” he said.

“Suicides and attempts have been on the increase in Nigeria. This could be due to several reasons but primarily due to the harsh economic conditions of the average Nigerian.

“This bill suggests that suicidal people need effective treatments, counselling and assistance and not punishment.”

The legislator stated that punishing attempted suicide is not an effective prevention strategy. Instead, the law should focus on guiding the proper authorities to help those who have attempted suicide and are dealing with trauma.

“Self-destructive behaviour is often a cry for help since suicide is mainly an indication of underlying mental and psychological disorder,” the lawmaker said.

“The criminal laws are better suited for prosecuting criminal acts, not an exhibited call for help and act of distress.”

The “ayes” were louder than the “nays” when Tajudeen Abbas, speaker of the house, put the bill to a voice vote.

Waive introduced a similar bill in the ninth assembly, but it did not pass due to legislative obstacles.

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By Adoga Stephen Editor-In-Chief
Stephen studied Mass Communication at the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu (now Lagos State University of Science and Technology), where he acquired requisite training for the practice of journalism. He loves the media, and his interest mostly lies in print medium, where his creative writing skill makes him a perfect fit.