As part of a move to address the legal frameworks that make suicide a crime, or where the laws regarding suicide are unclear, we recently launched our “Decriminalise Suicide Worldwide” campaign. The response from the public has been both heartfelt and resounding, with individuals and organisations alike expressing their support for the initiative.
The International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) highlighted the potential positive impact of decriminalisation, stating, “Decriminalisation opens doors to allowing suicide and wider mental health challenges to be understood better and for individuals to be met with compassion and not punishment.” This sentiment underscores the campaign’s core mission to shift the focus from punishment to prevention and support for those facing a mental health and/or suicide related crisis.
James Ford from Mayer Brown shared his experience, after attending the campaign launch at Australia House in London, where former Australian Prime Minister The Hon Julia Gillard AC delivered a keynote address. Ford expressed his pleasure and privilege at attending, stating, “The campaign aims to drive change in laws around the world so that those at risk are met with compassion, not criminalisation.”
The campaign sheds light on alarming statistics, revealing that 1.2 billion people live in jurisdictions where suicide is considered a crime or where its legal status remains unclear. Additionally, almost 800,000 people die by suicide each year. It’s the second leading cause of death among 15–24-year-olds. These shocking figures underscore the urgent need for global action and advocacy.
Anthony Davidson from Compton Fundraising Consultants shared a personal connection to the cause, emphasising the impact of suicide on families worldwide. He urged individuals to join the campaign, stating, “The criminalisation of suicide takes, not saves, lives.”
Stuart Raymond Kasule, a mental health advocate and behaviour specialist, emphasised the importance of moving from punishment to prevention. He urged action, stating, “Time to act is now – moving away from punishment to prevention. We need evidential interventions.”
Award winning mental health advocate Kwame O. Owusu also emphasised the global significance of the campaign, noting the disparity in suicide laws among countries and the need for reform, especially in Africa, which has the highest rates of suicide in the world.
Lady Dentaa Amoateng, President of Grow Unite Build Africa, echoed this sentiment, shedding further light on Africa’s high suicide rates and the need for urgent action to decriminalise suicide.
“Suicide has become a public health crisis that demands both our attention and action,” Lady Dentaa’s said. With 77% of suicides occurring in low-and-middle-income countries, the need for change is critical.
As the campaign gains momentum, individuals and organisations are encouraged to visit the campaign platform, 25crimes.org, to learn more and contribute to the cause. Additionally, the knowledge management platform, suicide-decrim.network, provides resources for those looking to actively participate in the campaign, in countries where suicide laws require change.
The support shown for this campaign shows us that there is a collective commitment to transforming the global conversation around mental health and suicide prevention.