It was the classic study of Emile Durkheim on suicide in 1897, that exposed the subject matter to many people in the world.
The academic piece categorised the subject matter into egoistic, altruistic, anomic and fatalistic suicides.
According to the Theorist who was also a renowned Sociologist, suicide of all sorts were blamable on the society, explaining that society pushes individuals to commit the act.
Durkheim said egoistic suicide occurs when an individual in the society losses the bond; togetherness and oneness that humans have with their families and friends. Excessive individuation, that is the increasing detachment of the individual from his/her community and family makes the person to feel worthless and could result in suicide. This individuation is more common in individualistic societies like Europe, but is gradually catching up in Africa due to rapid urbanisation.
He said another cause of suicide is a sense of being overwhelmingly engaged in group goals and believes. This occurs in societies with very high integration, example being the military field where people may kill themselves to satisfy group goals. This type of suicide is termed altruistic suicide.
Anomic suicide reflects an individual’s moral confusion and lack of social direction, which is reflected in dramatic social and economic upheaval and includes extreme economic failures or dramatic economic fortunes.
Fatalistic suicide is common when a person is extensively regulated, when their futures are pitilessly blocked with oppressive discipline. It occurs in oppressive societies such as prisons because the person is denied of his/her freedom.
Suicide, an act of one killing him/her self is becoming increasingly high in Ghana lately. Not too long ago, a lawyer of high repute allegedly hanged himself in a popular suburb in Accra. A pastor equally died in similar strange and unexplained circumstances.
A national daily reported that the 44-year-old Lawyer, Kofi Yawson-Adjei, who was the Secretary of Ghana Institution of Surveyors and a Valuer, hanged himself in his private office on the first floor of rented premises at Adabraka.
The father of three is said to have left his Kokomlemle residence about 0300 hours for his office in a taxi. He left a written note directing a lady named Narh to give a signed cheque for GH˘3,000 to his wife.
The Ghana News Agency also reported that two persons including a fetish priest committed suicide in separate incidents in the Eastern Region. They were Andrews Dramani, 25, a worker of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency, and Kwasi Kuma, a 54-year fetish priest.
Unconfirmed report indicates that at least five people commit suicide each day in Ghana.
The America Centre for Disease Control and Prevention which is responsible for collecting data on suicide said in 2010, 38, 364 persons committed suicide in the US, making the act the 10th leading cause of death in that country.
It noted that someone died every 13.7 minutes through suicide that year. This situation might not be too different in Ghana given the rapid social changes affecting every fabric of the society.
Dr Dan-Bright Dzorgbo, Head of the Sociology Department of the University of Ghana said there was no scientific statistics of suicide in Ghana but agreed that the trend is increasing in the country.
He said the rising cases of suicide are as a result of social inequality due to the wide gap between the rich and the poor.
He explained that even though Ghana could be classified as a lower middle-income country, only few people are economically satisfied, leaving the majority to wallow in abject poverty.
Dr Dzorgbo told the Ghana News Agency that due to social mobility, many people strive to move up the social ladder and through that they might contract loans and their inability to pay back results in suicide.
He said there is so much hopelessness in the country without any social support mechanisms to address the needs of the disadvantaged.
Dr Dzorgbo noted that the family system had also broken down and created individualistic societies where each one fends for him or herself. Sociologically speaking, Dzorgbo said suicide is becoming very common in Ghana because life is becoming very competitive.
“People move to urban environment trying to do something better but they are unable to meet the target…This can cause suicide”.
Dr Dzorgbo said in traditional societies like Ghana, most people who commit suicide might have done something wrong and might not want to expose themselves and as such commit suicide to end it all.
He was of the view that traditional support systems have become weak in the country especially as economic and social nobilities are becoming supreme, and suggested the need for the academia to conduct research to ascertain the facts concerning the phenomena.
Dr Dzorgbo suggested to the government to introduce social protection policies to assist the less privileged in the society to overcome the problems.
He observed that insurance policies must equally be introduced to aid the people.
The American Foundation for Suicide, which has been focusing on the study of the subject indicates risk factors to suicide as; mental disorders, in particular depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder, alcohol or substance abuse or dependence, schizophrenia, borderline or antisocial personality disorder and conduct disorder (in youth).
Additionally, the Foundation said psychotic disorders; psychotic symptoms in the context of any disorder, anxiety disorders, impulsivity and aggression, previous suicide attempt and family history of attempted or completed suicide are all serious risk factors to suicide.
Research from social psychologists shows that about 50 to 75 per cent of the people who commit suicide usually show symptoms.
People thinking about suicide may say so directly: “I’m going to kill myself,” “I just want the pain to end,” or “I can’t see any way out.”
Most of the time, people who kill themselves talk about wanting to kill themselves, or saying they wish they were dead.
They look for a way to kill themselves, such as hoarding medicine or buying a gun, talking about a specific suicide plan, feel hopeless or having no reason to live, feeling trapped, desperate, or needing to escape from an intolerable situation.
Some also have the feeling of being a burden to others, feeling humiliated, having intense anxiety and panic attacks.
More so, losing interest in things, or losing the ability to experience pleasure, insomnia, becoming socially isolated and withdrawn from friends, family, and others are all signs of to tragic incidents.
According to Assistant Superintendent of Police Ebenezer Tetteh, Northern Regional Public Relations Officer, suicide is a criminal offence and when convicted, a person may face stiffer punishment.
He explained that the criminal code Act 29 of 1960 gives the legal bases for suicide to be a crime.
It must be pointed out that suicide is not only a national crisis but a developmental obstacle that must be debated across the country and there must be a body responsible to reduce or prevent the menace.
The classification of suicide as a criminal offence must also be relooked, while government should concentrate efforts at improving social relations and the living standards of the people.
Ghana cannot afford to lose precious lives through suicide and something must be done without delay.
Source: A GNA Feature by Paul Achonga Kwode
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