Health DG: Be sensitive, have empathy and help those at risk of suicide

PUTRAJAYA: With suicide cases on the rise due to pandemic-related stress, the Health Ministry has called on society to be more mindful and sensitive of their surroundings for warning signs.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic) said the number of suicide cases reported to the police rose to 631 in 2020 from 609 the previous year.

“This year up to March, a total of 336 suicide cases have been reported to the police. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact towards the mental health of individuals all over the world, including Malaysia,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

“Some individuals have a higher risk of suffering from mental health issues including depression, especially when under tremendous stress or when isolated from a support network of friends and family,” he added.

Dr Noor Hisham said that if this depression is not addressed or treated, it can contribute to the risk of suicidal behaviour.

“Therefore, the public is urged to be more aware of family members and people around them who may display signs of depression that could lead to sucide,” said Dr Noor Hisham in a statement Tuesday (June 29).

He said individuals displaying symptoms that appear suicidal must seek immediate professional help.

“Others can help through effective communication with the depressed individual by showing more empathy and less judgmental behaviour towards them,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham also said the media must play their role through ethical reporting on suicide.

He also called on the public to be respectful of the families of victims by not sharing videos of individuals commiting suicide on social media.

“Spreading such videos on social media might encourage individuals with risk to emulate and commit copycat suicides,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

He added that those seeking help can contact the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) hotline at 03-2935 9935 or 014-322 3392.

Those in need of help can contact the Befrienders service nearest to them. For a full list of numbers as well as operating hours, go to or call 03-7627 2929.

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