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Doctors: Change Law, Suicide Attempt Not Crime But Health Issue

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  • Doctors have made a passionate appeal to parliament to consider changing the law and get rid of articles that consider suicide attempt a crime. 

    According to the Kenyan law, section 226 of the Penal Code, one is sentenced to two years in prison, a fine or both if caught attempting suicide. 

    The Kenya Psychiatric Association is now calling upon the authorities to get rid of that aspect of the law and show victims of attempted suicide compassion instead. 

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    On Friday, September 10, while celebrating World Suicide Prevention Day, the medics urged the government to emulate other countries and decriminalize suicide attempts. 

    Apparent suicide incident
    Apparent suicide incident
    The Standard

    Led by the association’s president, Chitayi Murabyula, the doctors have faulted the authorities for failing to help victims of mental illness overcome the challenge. 

    “We are calling on Parliament to move with haste and repeal Section 226 that has seen tens of suicidal suspects jailed across the country,” Murabyula mentioned.  

    He says that these victims experience underlying mental illnesses, and sending them to prison is condemning them to worse torture. 

    “We are also developing a policy to prevent suicide cases in the country and to protect and treat those suffering from this illness,” Murabyula remarked, during the psychiatrists association annual scientific conference.

    In attendance was Prof Lukoye Atwoli, the chairman of the board of Mathari Mental Hospital. He added that suicide cases should be managed by medics and not dealt with by the police. 

    “We should repeal this law as it condemns some sick people to prison, which is very unfair as they require medical attention,” Atwoli noted. 

    Besides that, the association urged the media to be very cautious when sharing numbers on suicide cases, and ensure that they don’t give exaggerated statistics. 

    “The media has become more active in reporting these cases, but there is no conclusive data to prove that they are on the rise as alluded in some quarters,” Atwoli concluded.

    Doctors address the media in Nairobi on October 15, 2020
    criminal suspect suicide
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    Dr john Masawe

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