Suicide must be decriminalised

In Summary

• Attempted suicide is punishable by two years imprisonment under the Penal Code

• The KNCHR has petitioned for suicide to be decriminalised arguing that it is a public health problem

Suicide is a medical problem, not criminal. 

Presently, attempted suicide is punishable by two years in prison under the Penal Code.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the Kenya Psychiatric Association have written to the Attorney General asking him to declare that the criminalisation of suicide is unconstitutional.

Government replied that they cannot amend the Penal Code, it can only be done in Parliament. Yet, in 2021, MPs threw out an amendment that would have decriminalised suicide.

Suicide results from depression or unresolved anger. It is an extreme reaction to what the sufferer considers to be an impossible situation. Those who attempt suicide deserve our sympathy and medical treatment, not punishment or imprisonment under the law.

People with suicidal thoughts can often, but not always, be helped. They can be prescribed medication, go for counselling, or be supported by their families. But the threat of criminal prosecution serves no useful purpose. It will not deter anyone from attempting suicide.

Attempted suicide can be a 'cry for help'. If anything, criminalising suicide will only encourage people to make sure they succeed.

So the government must ensure that suicide is decriminalised.

Quote of the day: "One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end."

Jiddu Krishnamurti
The Indian philosopher was born on May 11, 1895

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