Former Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Doctor Stephen King, has expressed concern that the criminal code of Saint Lucia makes attempted suicide a criminal offence.
“Can you imagine that I try to kill myself, you arrest me, charge me and take me before a Magistrate? When I think of the process of the law, to me it is a bit ridiculous,” King told the MBC television programme –Police Insight, last night.
The former CMO said he did not have a problem if when a case of attempted suicide came to the attention of a police officer, there was a referral machinery in place so that the person could get professional help.
King asserted that there was need to reduce stigma and discrimination associated with suicide.
He said he understood why the law was in place because a nations laws are fueled by its fears, however he told MBC Television that a person who attempts suicide ought to be labelled a patient who can access professional services, not a criminal.
According to section ninety-four of the criminal code of Saint Lucia a person found guilty of aiding or abetting a suicide or an attempted suicide, can be sentenced to twenty years in jail.
On the other hand, someone who attempts to commit suicide is liable on conviction to face two years in prison.
Doctor Stephen King called on the media to take more responsibility and be more professional in reporting suicides.
“I think it is important that media houses train their personnel, get their reporters and their cameramen trained,” he observed.
The former CMO said he understood the temptation to be more graphic and sensational, but cautioned against pandering to what he described as the strange fascination that people have with horror.
“It is alright for the movie studio but in real life we must be very careful because we are dealing with real people, real families and real loved ones, as well as other viewers including children who are watching television and are suddenly exposed to these horrible images,” King explained.