Disability rights advocacy organisations, the Mental Health Users of Zambia (MHUNZA) and Disability Rights Watch (DRW) joined the global observance of Mental Health Day under the theme suicide prevention.
MHUNZA Director Sylvester Katontoka Mr. Katontoka has called upon all Zambians to unite in fighting the rising cases of suicide in communities as the right to life is sacred.
“Zambia has continued to lose lives to suicide; depriving the country of critical human resource, families of breadwinners and leaving a trail of trauma and pain that many loved ones hardly recover from for a lifetime”. He noted.
It is estimated that one person commits suicide every 40 seconds around the world making suicide the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds.
The organisations have also commended government of the for enacting the Mental Health Act, 2019, which seeks to promote mental health from a human rights framework and improve community awareness and action to prevent mental illnesses and disabilities.
“The organisations are however deeply disturbed that whilst the Act provides that all persons shall enjoy legal capacity, Section 4 allows for restriction of legal capacity on the basis of “mental illness”, “mental disorder” or “mental disability”. The provisions wrongly conflate the concepts of “mental capacity” and “legal capacity”, where the first relates to legal agency and personality and the second is used to refer to cognitive and neurological processes”. He stated.
“The Mental Health Act in Section 4 strips persons with psychosocial disabilities of the right to enjoy their legal capacity on the basis of their actual or perceived mental abilities. We demand that the Act be amended to address this issue and to also remove the classification of persons with mental illness as legally disqualified persons”. He added.
By: Mumba Tailashi