Decriminalize Attempted Suicide in Nigeria

Decriminalize Attempted Suicide in Nigeria

3,564 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!

Why this petition matters

Attempted suicide is illegal according to Nigeria’s Criminal and Penal Codes and penalizes citizens with a one-year jail term. Individuals who try to take their life are in psychologically vulnerable states and need support, not detention or jail.

Nigeria should decriminalize suicide for five reasons:

  • Mental Health Act: In January 2023, President Buhari signed the National Mental Health Bill 2021 into law. For this Administration to consolidate gains made by the Act in advancing human rights and affirming the disability community, it must enact other critical regulatory reforms for those with mental health conditions. An important one is repealing the criminal sanctions for those who attempt suicide. The World Health Organization finds that this will encourage help-seeking behavior for psychosocial support, ensuring effective dispensation of the Act. 
  • Colonial: Anti-suicide laws are a part of the rules imposed on society during imperialist rule. The United Kingdom abolished this law under the Suicide Act of 1961 after Nigeria gained independence in 1960. However, post-colonial Nigeria still upholds this British-era criminalization of attempted suicide.
  • Increases suicide, particularly for women: The first study to systematically examine the association between the criminalization of suicide and suicide rates on a global scale was published in 2022 by BMJ Public Health. It found that suicide rates were higher in countries with criminal punishment of the act, especially among women.
  • Against global best practice: According to WHO, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, most countries had laws that punished people who attempted suicide. However, in the last 50 years, most countries have decriminalized suicide. 
  • Stigmatization: The criminalization of suicide and the disapproval that comes with being convicted has a lasting impact as persons have to live with the label of “ex-convict,” a permanent criminal record, and experience feelings of shame. These further limit basic human rights, e.g., reduced job and education opportunities, limited voting franchise, access to health care, etc.

Sign the petition and share to support the repeal of these laws.

3,564 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!