Nigeria’s House of Representatives yesterday passed for second reading a bill that seeks to sentence anyone who attempts to kill themselves to community service for six months and compulsory counselling service.

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

The new bill sponsored by Rep. Francis Waive (APC, Delta) seeks to replace the prison term with compulsory counselling and community service for a period not less than six months

In his argument on the motion, Waive said that any suicidal act with a non-fatal outcome is labelled by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as ‘attempted suicide’.

According to him, suicide is today identified as the second leading cause of death among 15-35 years old globally, while statistics indicate that 79% of global suicide is attributed to low and middle-income countries. Furthermore, over the last 45 years, suicide rates have increased by about 60%; thus establishing it to be a major public health problem (WHO, mental health).

Also defects of mental health such as; depression, long term substance abuse disorder, schizophrenia, mood disorder, psychosis and other psychiatric disorders are the most common risk factors linked to suicidal behavior.

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