NGO to start suicide decriminalization campaign

Local organization Lifeline ANPPCAN Malawi, is starting engagement meetings with key stakeholders as it wants the Malawi government to change the law which regarding attempted suicide as a crime.

This comes as Life International through its members across the global, on 23 October, 2023, launched the first phase which is an African content of suicide decriminalization campaign that focuses on advocating for legislative change in Nigeria and Malawi.

Confirming about the commencement of the campaign in Malawi, Lifeline ANPPCAN Malawi Deputy Country Director Henderson Mhango, said his organization will very soon start engaging various stakeholders on advocacy and community mobilization.

Mhango said during the campaign, they will educate people on mental health and also meet and encourage Malawian lawmakers to vote for suicide decriminalization bill which is set to be tabled in parliament very soon.

While emphasizing the need for attempted suicide decriminalization, the Lifeline ANPPCAN Malawi Deputy Director said people who attempt to commit suicide are mental health patients and do not need to be arrested but rather be sent to the hospital for medication.

“Attempting suicide should be decriminalized because those people who attempt to commit suicide are patients of mental health and they need attention of the doctor. Again prison is not a place where we keep patients, rather the hospital is where they are supposed to be assisted.

“We are planning to sensitize the community on mental health and do advocacy and lobbying to ensure people understand about mental health and engage their member of Parliament to vote for the decriminalization bill which will be tabled in Parliament soon,” explained Mhango.

Mhango further said currently Lifeline ANPPCAN Malawi is rapidly advancing on its journey towards decriminalization and improved crisis support services for individuals in distress through helplines and other community interventions across the nation.

According to Section 229 of the country’s Penal Code, attempted suicide is an offence in Malawi and it do attract a maximum of two years imprisonment with hard labor.

Current statistics show that in Malawi 366 people have committed suicide this year and among the population, 332 are men while 34 are women.