PETALING JAYA: Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto has called for the creation of a 'National Suicide Prevention Strategy' and to allocate more funding for the National Suicide Registry Malaysia, as a concrete step in suicide prevention.
Kasthuri said that there were more and more Malaysians who took their own lives as a result of being unable to cope with stress, rejection and discrimination, with stigmatisation, and the inability to communicate or cry out for help when they needed it.
She said there is an upward trend of teenage and juvenile suicides, between the ages of 13 to 17 globally, including in the country.
"Malaysia, with its population of almost 32 million, bears a sad witness to this trend that 10% of youths are suicidal. That translates to 3.2 million youngsters, the future of our country at risk of taking their own lives.
"79% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries according to WHO, but this trend is slowly changing, as more and more young people in developed or high income nations find that suicide is a way out for all their woes and problems, as they battle with their demons inside and out," she said in a statement on World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday (Sep 10).
She said that suicide is one of most controversial, and ironically, the least talked about global disasters, as it is greatly linked to mental health disorders.
She added that suicide is now one of the top 10 leading causes of death, apart from non-communicable diseases and the second leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 29 years old.
"News on suicide has been all over our news, as school children are unable to cope with their situation that can be a combination of factors such as life tragedies, financial problems, substance abuse, growing up with a violent or in a violent environment, social and psychological problems relationship problems and mental disorders, and not knowing where to seek for help," she said.
Kasthuri said that suicide rates have become more prevalent amongst vulnerable groups, who are constantly facing and experiencing discrimination and prejudice, such as refugees and migrants, indigenous people, the LGBTI community and prisoners, especially those on death row.
The government must now step in to ensure that suicide prevention and mental health become an issue that is not shrouded in secrecy, shame and taboo, she added.
She said with more public places, especially places of worship, schools and universities, involved in raising awareness on suicide prevention, there would be less stigma for people suffering from mental health or suicidal tendencies to seek and obtain early help.
Those suffering from problems or contemplating suicide are advised to contact the 24-hour Befrienders hotline at 05-547 7933 (Ipoh), 04-281 5161 (Penang) or 03-7956 8144 (Klang Valley) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sneham Malaysia offers counselling as the first Tamil language based hotline for suicide prevention, and also in Malay and English at 1800-22-5757 from 4pm to 8pm.
For Mandarin speakers, Life Line Association Malaysia's hotline at 03-4265 7995 caters to a kind listening ear for those who need it.