Suicides spike during MCO

Risky task: Fire and rescue personnel seen saving a woman off a ledge in this file photo. During the MCO period, firemen have been busy handling cases of people threatening to take their own lives.

JOHOR BARU: Since the movement control order (MCO) started five months ago, firemen have been busy handling cases of people threatening to take their own lives.

In most cases, the firemen have been able to talk them out of it before rushing them to hospital.

National Fire and Rescue Department Operations director Nor Hisham Mohammad said that June was their busiest month with 21 cases around the country.

“All the victims (in June) were rescued with only three injured. There were no deaths,” he said.

He said between March and July, the department had attended to 88 such cases, with 78 people rescued, seven injured and three fatalities.

Nor Hisham noted that these were only cases handled by the department and the figures could be much higher.

He said some of those who wanted to commit suicide were depressed, bipolar, had failed relationships or were in financial distress.

There were an equal number of men and women, he said, adding that the youngest rescued from suicide was a 15-year-old girl in Kelantan while the oldest were several people in their 60s from Sabah.

Most cases were in urban areas with Selangor topping the list with 31 cases followed by Kuala Lumpur (13), Sarawak (7) and Johor (6).

He said there were also six attempted suicide cases involving foreigners with one death this year.

Nor Hisham advised those who were distressed or overwhelmed with life to call helplines run by government and non-government organisations (NGO) or even religious bodies.

Meanwhile, James Ho, who runs a Johor-based NGO said he had attended to about five cases related to suicidal thoughts among those who had lost their jobs during the recovery MCO period.

“The economic impact of the MCO has been hitting the public harder now compared to the first few months as many who had lost their jobs are still unable to find new ones.

“Businesses are also scaling down and are unable to employ more workers. This causes anxiety among many,” he said.

He noted that financial problems usually led to other issues such as family disputes.

“I urge those who are going through such difficulties to call Befrienders and be assured that they are not alone,” he said.

Befrienders Johor Baru president Danny Loo said that Befrienders Malaysia nationwide received about 5,059 calls between April and June during the MCO period. “We received an average of about 770 calls a month during the MCO period in Johor Baru, which is an increase of about 41% from the numbers prior to that.

“We noticed that there have also been more calls during the recovery MCO period compared to during the first phases of the MCO period,” he said.

Loo expects calls, messages and e-mails to Befrienders to increase as the end of bank loan moratorium draws closer.

He said due to the anonymous nature of calls, they don’t know what happens to those who contact them.

“We will do our best to listen to their calls and explore options with them to assure them that somebody is listening.

“For the sake of our own volunteers’ mental health, it is important for them to remember that they have done their best,” he said.

He added that apart from distress calls, Befrienders Johor Baru had also received calls from those who were seeking to share about their day to day life.

“Such calls are from people of all walks of life who would call to share both sad and happy news with our volunteers,” he said.

Those facing emotional and psychological distress could call Befrienders Johor Baru at 07-3312300, Muar at 06-952 0313, Melaka at 06-2842 500/700 and Seremban Befrienders at 06-6321 772/3.

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suicide , MCO , health , firemen , Be­frienders


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