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Criminal Code Act Amendment Seeks Rehabilitation of Suicide Survivors

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A bill to amend the Criminal Code Act Cap C38, Laws of the Federation 2004 sponsored by Hon. Waive Ejiroghene Francis (APC: Delta) passed second reading on 15th February 2022.  The bill seeks to amend the punishment for the offence of attempted suicide from an imprisonment term of one year, to compulsory counselling and community service for a period not less than six months. Hon. Waive in his lead debate on the bill, noted the increasing incidence of suicide and attempted suicide in Nigeria, which he said could be attributed to harsh economic realities and living conditions, among others. He noted that suicidal persons are in need of effective treatments and assistance, as opposed to punishment. Lagos State is the only State in Nigeria which provides a remedy for persons who attempt suicide. In 2015, Lagos State amended its laws to order for the hospitalisation of persons who attempt suicide.

According to a 2016 report of the World Health Organisation, Nigeria accounted for the highest rate of suicide in Africa, with a total of 17,710 cases recorded that year. Suicide is closely related to mental illness. Mental health issues seem to have come to limelight only in recent times, with several organisations creating awareness and providing solutions to these issues. Experts in the field have also canvassed for a review of section 327 of Nigeria’s Criminal Code Act which punishes attempted suicide, on the basis that it does not necessarily serve as a deterrent for persons who are contemplating suicide nor address the root cause of their actions. Instead, they believe that there should be more humane ways to cater to suicide survivors.

It is noteworthy that the Nigerian Legislature is playing its part to address the issue of mental health by amending and making laws to provide support for persons contemplating suicide and others with varying mental health challenges.

See bill here: