Act together to prevent suicide


Support from friends and family is vital for a person who shows signs of depression.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 (Sept 10) focuses on the public’s role in preventing suicide especially during the pandemic

THE current pandemic has a huge and global impact on mental health and Malaysians are not spared.

Some individuals are at high risk of mental health problems including depression especially when in a state of extreme stress and isolation from the support network of family and friends.

If this depression fails to be identified and treated properly, it can increase the risk of suicidal behaviour.

According to Global Health Estimates data by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2019 suicide death in Malaysia is 5.8 persons per 100,000 population. The death rate due to suicide is higher among men (9/100,000) compared to women (2.4/100,000).

The Royal Malaysian Police found that there was an increase in death by suicide reported in 2020 with 631 cases, compared to 609 cases in 2019.

World Suicide Prevention Day

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 is observed on Sept 10 annually, and Mental Health Day takes place a month later on Oct 10.

The International Association on Suicide Prevention (IASP)’s theme for World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 is “Creating Hope Through Action”.

The aim is to increase the public’s confidence to play a common role in suicide prevention and eliminate stigma associated with suicidal behavior. This theme will be used until 2023.

The national theme for World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 is “Let's TALK Minda Sihat: Bertindak Segera, Harapan Terbina” (Let's TALK Healthy Mind: Creating Hope Through Action).

According to the Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Violence Injury Prevention Programme (MeSVIPP) under the Health Ministry’s Disease Control Division, this focuses on the public’s role in preventing suicide especially during the pandemic.

The theme was chosen to show the importance of taking immediate action to address suicidal behaviour collectively at all levels during the pandemic – individuals, families, communities, stakeholders such as policymakers, politicians, all government and private agencies, and NGOs.

Everyone has a part to play when it comes to suicide prevention. We can take action to help if we know of family members, friends or acquaintances having an emotional crisis, or showing signs of depression or suicidal intent.Everyone has a part to play when it comes to suicide prevention. We can take action to help if we know of family members, friends or acquaintances having an emotional crisis, or showing signs of depression or suicidal intent.

Look out for signs

Suicidal behaviour is multifactorial and complex, such as psychosocial and environmental issues, financial issues (loss of income or employment), depression or other mental illnesses, lack of social support and substance abuse. Some of the factors are beyond the reach of the Health Ministry and other mental health services.

Signs of depression in a person would include change in behaviour, loss of appetite and sleep, as well as always looking sad and depressed.

They would also lose interest in usual activities, isolate themselves from their family, say they have lost hope and their existence is a burden to their family.

They would also voice out their intention to end their lives, be it verbally or in writing.

How to help

What can we do to help a person with suicidal tendencies?

Everyone has a part to play when it comes to suicide prevention. As members of the community, we can take action to help if we know of family members, friends or acquaintances having an emotional crisis, or showing signs of depression or suicidal intent.

If suicide happened in the family, it is strongly advisable for the family and next of kin to reach out and get emotional and psychological support from professional counsellors or therapists.

Prevention methods

• Get them to talk about their suicide intention.

• Restrict their access to dangerous objects or places.

• Make sure they are not alone.

• Help them to get immediate medical attention at the nearest health facilities. Don’t be afraid to get their family members or friends involved.

• Seek help from a support group for caregivers/families/people.

For psychosocial support assistance services, contact the KKM-Mercy Malaysia Psychosocial Support Helpline (03-2935 9935), The Befrienders Kuala Lumpur (03-7627 2929) or Talian Kasih (15999). Visit Agenda Nasional Malaysia Sihat, www.mindasihatkkm.com, www.reachout.my and Health Ministry official portal for more information.

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