THE Penang Fire and Rescue Department recorded more than double the number of suicide threat cases during the last seven months of this year compared to the corresponding period last year.
Its director Saadon Mokhtar said the cases have become a hot issue, which made it important for the matter to be given due attention.
He said 25 cases were recorded as of 8am on July 29 compared to 11 cases in the same period last year.
“The contributing factors to the increase include the economic situation in the pandemic.
“I believe there are many more reasons like break-ups, mental problems, issues with family members and outsiders, pressure from debtors and so on,” he added.
Saadon said the increase in cases prompted his department to collaborate with Penang Crime Consciousness and Public Safety Society (CCPSS) to help victims of depression.
He was speaking during a press conference at the e-Poster launch to mark the department’s collaboration with CCPSS at its state headquarters in Batu Kawan near Nibong Tebal recently.
Also present were Penang CCPSS chairman Datuk Mohamad Anil Shah Abdullah, its deputy chairman Goh Hoe Eng, its special liaison officer with government and corporate sectors Seah Kok Heng and Penang Fire Department senior officer Mohd Hafiz Hafizal Timaradin.
Saadon said through the initiative, the method of giving advice and listening to problems was used.
“Most victims of depression need someone to express their feelings to.
“We have created a counselling unit with CCPSS, which is joined by expert counsellors to give advice and solve problems faced by the victims,” he said.
Mohamad Anil Shah said the cooperation was aimed at offering intermediary services between the victims, their family members and government agencies as an early intervention to help the victims.
“Our collaboration is in handling suicide and attempted suicide cases, where the Fire Department would be involved in rescue work.
“Most of the other NGOs offer counselling or psycho-social assistance but we wanted to go further.
“We will make more public announcements soon for the public to be aware that such services are available for them.
“They must immediately alert us when there are such cases because every second counts,” he said.
Mohamad Anil Shah said in Penang, there had been an average of two cases of suicide or attempted suicide per day.
“We also have direct links with the police as they would be later involved in investigations, when needed.
“Suicides happen not only because of personal reasons or love failure.
“They also occur when victims are threatened by loan sharks, or they could have incurred hefty losses in business or gambling, or people could have threatened to kidnap or harm their children.
“Such cases have to be taken over by the police. It must be a holistic approach and you cannot just go and rescue the victims and send them home.
“Sometimes, they need to be sent to the hospital,” he added.
He said individuals in the state who needed help could contact the department at 04-5047 222 or CCPSS at 016-411 7171 for support and advice.