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Student, 21, reportedly dies by suicide at Akrokeri Bobrase in Ashanti Region

An alleged suicide victim identified as Richard Donkor has left his family and members of the public in the town of Akrokeri Bobrase in sadness after he is said to have hanged himself on Wednesday night.

Donkor, a 21-year-old student of the Amankyim Senior High School in the Ashanti Region, had threatened to commit suicide earlier that day, according to his father.

“[Last] evening it was drizzling, so we were all hiding and I had a call that one boy has committed suicide, so we all went to the scene. We broke the lock and entered the room, and we saw him hanging in there. So that is what has happened,” a resident of the town told an Accra-based radio station.

The cause of Donkor’s frustrations are not known but “[a]ccording to the father, the boy had earlier threatened that he will commit suicide, and he indeed has done it,” the resident stated.

The law on attempted suicide

Meanwhile, a case has been brought before the Supreme Court of Ghana by a private legal practitioner to have the highest body of jurisprudence re-interpret Ghana’s criminalisation of attempted suicide.

Currently, under Act (1960) Act 29, specifically Section 57 (2), is stated that “whoever attempts to commit suicide shall be guilty of a misdemeanour”. A misdemeanour may be minor wrongdoing but is still a crime in Ghanaian law books and thus punishable.

This is an entrenched clause that leaves little to no room for a judge’s discretion.

But Christian Lebrecht Malm-Hesse, an associate of legal firm K-Archy and Co, wants to see attempted suicide decriminalised. Malm-Hesse’s writ was filed on May 8, 2021, and has been greeted with modest media appreciation although the argument is not new.

Malm-Hesse wants the Supreme Court to declare that there is no criminal intention or mens rea with respect to the commitment of an unsuccessful attempt. The lawyer would also like to see “attempt to commit suicide”, that is section 57 (2) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 ACT 29, amended and to that extent, expunged.

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