‘Remove stigma on suicide’

Dr Noor Hisham: ‘This will encourage those affected to come forward and seek help’

PUTRAJAYA: Recognising that suicide is not a crime is a step towards getting more people to seek early treatment, says Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The Health director-general, in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day, noted that decriminalising suicide is key towards its prevention.

“The Health Ministry supports efforts to amend or repeal Section 309 of the Penal Code that deems attempted suicide a crime.

“Decriminalising suicide in Malaysia will be a shift towards preventing suicidal acts in the country.

“This will encourage those affected to come forward and seek help as early as possible,” said Dr Noor Hisham in a statement yesterday.

According to Section 309, whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such an offence stands to be punished with imprisonment for up to a year or a fine, or both.

Dr Noor Hisham said the number of deaths caused by suicide in Malaysia had risen in the past years, particularly due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has taken a huge toll on people’s mental health.

“Police statistics revealed that the number of suicide deaths rose from 609 in 2019 to 631 in 2020.

“But as of July 2021, there have been 638 suicide deaths reported to the police this year, compared to 262 cases between January and July 2020.

“This is an increase of 143% or 1.4 times more,” he added.

Dr Noor Hisham said it is the collective role of society to identify early symptoms of depression and suicidal behaviour among loved ones, especially in the current pandemic situation.

He urged the community to learn to get rid of stigma related to suicidal behaviour.

“If depression is not identified and treated properly, it can lead to suicidal behaviours. Suicide behaviours include suicidal ideation, suicidal plan, suicide attempt and death due to suicide,” he explained.

Dr Noor Hisham also highlighted several ways society can help prevent suicidal behaviour.

“Be aware of family members and people around you, especially those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Provide support to them and encourage them to seek help and treatment.

“Do not spread news, videos or pictures related to the suicide incidents on social media. Remove the negative stigma and do not be judgmental on suicide attempts,” he added.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin reminds those who are battling depression and anxiety that they are not alone in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day 2021.

“I want to reach out to people who are battling depression (and) anxiety that you are not alone. Please don’t think that even in your darkest moments that you are alone. Help is available. We are here for you,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

Those suffering from problems can reach out to the Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service at 03-2935 9935 or 014-322 3392; Talian Kasih at 15999 or 019-261 5999; Jakim’s (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) family, social and community care centre at 0111-959 8214; and Befrienders Kuala Lumpur at 03-7627 2929 or go to befrienders.org.my/centre-in-malaysia for a full list of numbers nationwide and operating hours, or email sam@befrienders.org.my.

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