Criminal Prosecution of Suicide Attempt Survivors in Ghana

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Recently, there have been calls for the decriminalization (or depenalization) of nonfatal suicidal behavior (attempted suicide) in Ghana, India, Uganda, and other societies that currently criminalize nonfatal suicidal behavior. Despite this, there is a dearth of systematic studies that examine the extent, nature, and characteristics of attempted suicide prosecutions in countries that currently criminalize nonfatal suicidal behavior. The current study, therefore, explores the phenomenon of criminal prosecution and punishment for suicide attempters in Ghana, one among several countries where nonfatal suicidal behavior is a crime. Drawing from data extracted from local Ghanaian print and electronic news media articles, the study examines the sociodemographic characteristics of suicide attempt survivors, the patterns of nonfatal suicidal behavior, as well as the criminal justice outcomes of the criminal prosecutions. The findings indicate that the majority of defendants pled guilty to or were found guilty of the charge and sentenced to penalties ranging from monetary fines to incarceration. The results are discussed with regard to their implications for reducing nonfatal suicidal behavior in Ghana.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1477-1497
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013


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