The University of Cape Coast (UCC) is to hold a suicide prevention crusade in April to inform the university community and the general public about the menace recently recurring in educational institutions.
On February 24, a female student of the Kwame Nkrumah University Science and Technology (KNUST) was reported to have committed suicide by hanging herself after what initially was said to be an abysmal academic performance.
On March 8, another female and a student of the University of Ghana also allegedly took her life by jumping from her fourth floor hostel room after suffering depression.
0n March 7, a female junior high school student ended her life by hanging following what the deceased reportedly related is a call from God in a dream.
These issues have raised diverse concerns among some students at the University of Cape Coast about the patronage of counseling services between professionals and friends.
Carl Dovi said: “My friend is closer to me and I will feel more comfortable confiding in him than a professional I don’t know.”
“I don’t get why I will go to a friend while a professional has more experience,” Fred Omenako told 3News.com.
Rafia said “I know of counselling centers even in the departments but personally, I will go to my friend instead.”
According to the director of the University Counselling Center, Professor Godwin Awabil, the Center recorded 940 clients out of the about 20,000 student population.
Research has indicated that generally the gender paradox of suicidal behavior is against men, raising eyebrows about the consistent female victims.
But a lecturer at the Classics and Philosophy Department of UCC, Miss Stella Atwiwaa, who occasionally counsels students, gathers that “mostly they (the ladies) don’t send their issues to the counselors. It’s either they don’t know they have counsellors or they are afraid their issues will go out.”
She added that she once in a while receives students with problems who prefer talking to their friends to going to professionals.
The University of Cape Coast has 19, 793 regular undergraduate and graduate students.
It has no peer counseling center but has instituted professional counselors in the various six traditional halls and departments aside from the main counselling center, which was established 20 years ago according to Professor Awabil.
The Center has for the past two decades dealt with issues regarding dismissals from the institution, disappointments in relationships and staff stress management, among others.
Professor Godwin Awabil considers the 940 clients served at the center in 2016 not encouraging although it is an improvement from the past 3 years.
In 2014, 624 clients visited but the number increased to 678 in 2015.
The professor is worried about the recent recurrence of suicide in educational institutions and is calling for psychological assessment of students upon admissions to identify and pay attention to victims.
“What we have not done as a country is that we don’t carry out psychological assessment to identify people who are prone so that we can put in place an intervention before it is too late,” Professor Awabil said.
A planning committee has been set up ahead of the suicide prevention crusade at UCC in April.
“I have put a committee in place to plan a suicide awareness crusade in the university community to equip the general public to identify people who are at risk and refer them to us for psychological support and before the end of March details of the program will be made known.”
The UCC Counseling Center offers services free of charge.