The College of Health Sciences has held its 3rd Biennial Public Lecture at the British Council Auditorium in Accra under the theme; “Suicide: An Emerging Epidemic in Ghana”?
The Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Rev. Prof. Patrick F. Ayeh-Kumi, in his welcome address said that it was the hope of the College to discourage people from seeing suicide as an answer to whatever predicament they may be faced with through creating awareness about suicide.
He said awareness creation about pertinent health issues through the Biennial Public Lectures of the College was part of the College’s corporate social responsibility to its stakeholders.
He added that the fight against suicide must be a collaborative effort in order to save the lives of our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers who may have any suicidal thoughts.
Speaking at the Lecture, the first speaker, Dr. Joseph Osafo, a Clinical Psychologist and Suicidologist with the Department of Psychology, said suicidal rates were on the increase globally. He said suicides account for 50% of all violent deaths in men and 71% in women.
He stated that suicide was a cultural artifact and with regard to age, suicide rates were highest in persons aged 70 years and over for both men and women in almost all regions of the world; however more men were at risk of committing suicide than women because although women may attempt suicide, men were more likely to carry it out.
The second speaker, Prof. Angela L. Ofori-Atta of the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Dentistry, said health professionals, priests, pastors and community members must be trained to spot people at risk for key mental health difficulties. She said having enlightened gatekeepers was crucial to the prevention of suicide.
Prof. Ofori-Atta said there should be a national policy which allows data to be gathered on deaths by suicide and non-fatal suicide attempts that are routinely monitored and reviewed to help guide suicide prevention efforts.
Dr. Emmanuel Asampong, the third speaker, noted that a public health approach should be used in suicide prevention. He stated that the promotion and protection of the health of people in the communities where they live, learn, work and play and the use of a population approach to improve health on a large scale, focusing on prevention approaches that impact groups of people, was vital for a sustainable approach towards the prevention of suicide.
Speaking at the Lecture, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research, Innovation and Development) and Chairman for the Lecture, Professor Francis Dodoo said it was apparent that suicide prevention was an all hands on deck issue which should not be left to health professionals alone to deal with.
He stated that breaking the silence associated with suicide and building public awareness while implementing preventive strategies, and undertaking research would help overcome this health problem.
He indicated the University’s delight in the College of Health Sciences decision to lead the way to research and awareness creation about suicide in the country.
This year’s lecture was the third to be held since the College instituted the Biennial Public Lecture Series.
Mr. Augustus Kingsley Appo who until his retirement on 31st July, 2017 was a prominent member of the College Scientific and Public Lecture Planning Committee was awarded for his invaluable service to the then University of Ghana Medical School (now School of Medicine and Dentistry), the College and the University. Mr. Appo worked for the College and the University for over forty years.
The Provost thanked Mr. Appo for his contribution to the growth of the Medical School and the College and wished him well in his retirement. The College presented a citation and an undisclosed amount of money to Mr. Appo.