Ghana police service must quickly look into possible causes of suicide among its officers [ARTICLE]

Losing three of its officers within three weeks, not to covid-19 but suspected suicide calls for some sense of urgency to be attached to investigations into those deaths and possible remedies found to the situation.

On January 30, 2020, the Half Assini District Police Commander, Superintendent of Police (SP) Cyprain Zenge died in circumstances suspected to be a suicide.

Reports suggested that the senior officer shot himself in the head, leaving behind a note which read: “I am fed up in this world.”

A statement from the Western Regional Police Command confirmed the demise of the Police Commander, saying: “Although preliminary investigation points to suicide, the investigation is opened to unravel the true circumstances leading to the death of the officer.”

Then, barely had investigation started into the death of the Half Assini District Police Commander than news of the death of another police officer broke in less than 24 hours.

The policeman identified as Constable Yelnona Eugene died whilst on duty at the residence of a Togolese opposition leader, Gilcrest Olympio in Accra.

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He was alleged to have shot himself just as in the case of Superintendent of Police (SP) Cyprain Zenge.

According to reports, the police officer had been unwell for some time now and went on leave for medical attention.

He resumed work on Friday, January 29, 2021, and applied for an extension of his leave so he could complete his medical treatment since he was still not well, but the request was not granted.

He allegedly shot himself in the washroom on Monday dawn, February 1, 2021, at the residence of the Togolese opposition leader.

Police investigations are ongoing into his death too.

Even before investigations into the two earlier cases could be concluded and the causes of deaths ascertained and shared with the Ghanaian public, another senior police officer has allegedly committed suicide.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Divine Yao Asiam who was with the Legal and Prosecutions Unit in Ashaiman died after he was found with a gunshot wound at his residence at about 7:45 am on 14th February 2021.

He was reportedly sent to the Police Hospital for treatment but died shortly on arrival.

A statement signed by the Acting PRO of the Tema Region, C/Inspector Stella Dede Dzakpasu said that investigations have commenced to unravel circumstances leading to the death of the officer.

Civilians and people in other professions including young people have taken their lives in this country but what makes the above-mentioned cases quite exceptional is the fact that they all occurred in less than three months and involve two senior officers too.

Meanwhile, a retired police officer, Chief Inspector Edward Afful, who retired after 21 years of service has said that some personnel of the Ghana police service are not happy, adding that many are depressed on the job.

“Police officers in this country need prayers. They are really suffering. Most of them are not happy and that is why they keep taking their lives. Unfortunately, conditions for these junior officers are so rife in the Ghana Police Service with very little psychological help and support in times of need. The happenings in the police can sometimes make you so stressed and depressed, and so it is not surprising that we are witnessing suicides on the increase in recent times,” the retired Chief Inspector said during an interview on Adom FM’s morning show Dwaso Nsem Monday, February 15, 2021.

“Being in the service for 21 years wasn’t an easy experience at all. Can you imagine, for instance for 10 years as criminal prosecution I didn’t have accommodation? I rented a place and had a two-bedroom apartment, the service asked me to vacate the place and went somewhere and up to now, that land is still there and my money has not been given back to me. I took the matter to IGP and nothing has been done about it. The administration can also stress us up and make police officers commit such acts. The juniors suffer most,” he revealed.

Although it cannot be said conclusively that retired Chief Inspector Edward Afful’s claims are the causes of the recent spike in suicide among police officers, attention must be paid to it without delay in addition to other possible factors to curtail the unfortunate trend.

He raised two significant issues bothering on welfare and psychological support for officers which the Inspector General of the Ghana Police and the top hierarchy of the service must not take lightly at all.

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