PETALING JAYA: Decriminalise attempted suicide and have insurance coverage for mental illness, says Subang Jaya assemblyman Michelle Ng (pic).
"The country has drawn its attention to the suicide of a 16-year-old teenager in Batu Kawa, Sarawak. The case drew headlines, perhaps because of the way social media was used to determine the fate of that young girl.
"There have been calls for investigations and education. But little has been said about what exactly needs to be done after this case fizzles, to address this growing problem in the long run," she said in a statement on Thursday (May 16).
She added that several steps should be taken to address the rising issue of mental illness.
"The government must come on board with more cogent policies. There are two things that need immediate attention.
"First, decriminalising attempted suicide as a crime, and setting up a Standard Operating Procedure within the police force to provide help for the attempter. Second, push for insurance coverage for mental illness," she said.
She explained that for the latter, pressure would be offloaded from public hospitals, and financial burdens associated with mental illness-related care would be eased.
"(It) also plays a part in raising awareness and de-stigmatisation," she said.
According to Ng, people who regularly engage with the public should also educate themselves in identifying signs of mental illnesses and the appropriate places to seek help.
"All quarters must first realise that mental health is a collective responsibility. Families should not dismiss the problem as arising from the workplace or school.
"In the same way, employers and teachers should not dismiss the problem, given that self-harm and signs of mental illness usually takes place at home.
"We have a collective responsibility to foster wellness, and to look out for one another," she said.