We extend our deep gratitude to our colleague, African Continental Representative for LifeLine International, Professor Taiwo Sheikh, for his invaluable contributions to World Suicide Prevention Day. Professor Taiwo Sheikh’s insightful interviews have done a remarkable job representing our organisation and advancing suicide prevention efforts in Africa.
Professor Taiwo’s focus on dispelling myths and misconceptions surrounding suicide was welcome, as was his understanding and compassion surrounding this issue.
In many African communities, deeply ingrained cultural, traditional, and religious biases have perpetuated misconceptions about suicide, serving as significant barriers to open discourse and access to preventive services. Some believe suicide to be a malevolent act, associated with evil spirits or divine retribution. These beliefs have led to practices such as excluding those who died by suicide from community burials and withholding religious rituals.
Cultural biases have also trivialised suicide, attributing it to seemingly trivial causes, rather than addressing underlying issues. This tendency to blame the individual rather than the circumstances surrounding them can hinder progress in suicide prevention.
Furthermore, the criminalisation of suicide in certain regions has created additional barriers, as individuals fear legal repercussions for seeking help or disclosing their suicidal thoughts.
The media coverage surrounding World Suicide Prevention Day has shed light on these challenges, sparking essential conversations that challenge stereotypes and stigma. It’s increasingly evident that criminalising suicide does not reduce its prevalence; in fact, it often exacerbates the issue.
Countries that have decriminalised suicide tend to have lower suicide rates, as individuals feel more comfortable seeking help from crisis support services and sharing their experiences without fear of punishment. Importantly, this openness allows for more accurate data collection, which is essential for developing effective suicide prevention programs and strategies and allocating necessary resources.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our African Continental Representative for LifeLine International, Professor Taiwo Sheikh, for his invaluable contributions. His insightful interviews have done a highy valuable job in representing the organisation and advancing suicide prevention efforts in Africa. We are especially pleased to share his interview on France24, a broadcaster with the reach into the millions across the continent. As the world marked World Suicide Prevention Day, media coverage featuring Professor Taiwo serves as a powerful catalyst for change in Africa. By dispelling myths, addressing cultural biases, and promoting open dialogue, and through this, crisis support services, we can take significant steps toward a future where suicide prevention is a collective effort based on understanding and support without judgment. Thank you Professor!
Read some of the coverage here:
- Poverty, outdated laws reasons suicide ranks high in Africa – Sheikh (feature interview)
- Access To Crisis Support Services, Can Save Lives – NGO Reveals
- Suicide Prevention Day: Access to crisis support services imperative to save lives – NGO