Dewan Rakyat approves Bill to decriminalise attempted suicide

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat has unanimously approved the amendments to the Penal Code (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2023, to decriminalise attempted suicide.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Legal and Institutional Reforms) Ramkarpal Singh said the amendments, comprising four clauses, among them, are to delete Section 309 of Act 574, to remove attempted suicide as a criminal offence.

"The existence of Section 309 was a provision from the 19th century because it was seen that at time, criminalising suicide would be an act of prevention.

"The abolition of Section 309 of Act 574 will be a stepping stone in efforts to prevent any attempted suicide in the country, and to aid those who needed help to come out and seek help.

"This also would remove stigma against any suicide attempts and decrese the rate of suicide attempts.

"Nowadays, medical treatment and not prosecution is the best way to address the matter based on approaches by other countries," he told the Dewan Rakyat during his winding-up speech on Monday (May 22).

Previously, Section 309 makes attempted suicide a punishable offence of up to a year in jail, a fine or both, upon conviction.

The amendments would also seek to additionally recognise any abetment of an attempted suicide by any individual as a criminal offence under Section 306 of Act 574.

Currently, Section 306 only provided for the offence of abetment of suicide and or attempted suicide with up to 10 years in jail, and a fine upon conviction.

In addition, it would also be a criminal offence for those who abet the suicide attempt of a child, a person of limitted faculties, or a person in a state of intoxication under Section 305.

Ramkarpal (Pakatan Harapan-Bukit Gelugor) added that the amendments of Sections 305 and 306 would also cover the action of cyberbullies found abetting, or influencing the suicides of children, and those who were mentally disabled, as a criminal offence.

He said the decision is to protect victims from online bullying which could lead to suicide.

"There are cyberbullies who were involved in encouraging the victims to end their own lives through online platforms.

"And if they are detected and there is evidence of the act on a child or a mentally disabled person, we will investigate the case," he said.

The Dewan Rakyat also passed the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment No 2) Act 2023 by a voice vote.

The amendment of the Criminal Procedure Code or Act 593 is consequential to the amendments made to Act 574.

It included abetting attempted suicide of a child or a person who lacks mental capacity, or any person, as a criminal offence.

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