Dewan Rakyat passes amendments to Mental Health Act to empower crisis intervention officers

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat has passed amendments to the Mental Health Act 2001.

The amendments under the Mental Health Act (Amendment) 2023 were made following the decriminalisation of suicide under the Penal Code (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2023 on Monday (May 22).

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Legal and Institutional Reforms) Ramkarpal Singh said the amendments comprise two clauses – the short title and the commencement of the Act, as well as substitution of Section 11 that empowers crisis intervention officers.

"The amendments to the Mental Health Act 2001 (Act 561) was intended following the decriminalisation of suicide attempts under the Penal Code (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2023 that was passed on Monday.

"The move to manage the matter is important to ensure that enforcement aspects can be implemented for the sake of suicidal individuals," he told the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (May 23).

According to the Act, any crisis intervention officers are empowered to apprehend any person if they suspect they are committing self-harm, damaging property or attempting to commit suicide.

Crisis intervention officers were also empowered to enter any premises, if necessary, to exercise the power, which includes having to break in.

"Subsequently, the crisis intervention officer shall bring the apprehended person to a government psychiatric hospital or a gazetted private psychiatric hospital no later than 24 hours after the apprehension for examination.

"This amendment is consequential to the deletion of Section 309 of the Penal Code," Ramkarpal said.

Crisis intervention officers comprise various officers from agencies and enforcement such as the police, Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency, Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Department and Welfare Department.

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