As an urgent anti-Covid-19 Pandemic measure, Parliament should decriminalise suicide in September/October meeting and Ismail Sabri should announce that no one will be prosecuted for attempted suicide until law is amended
As an urgent anti-Covid-19 pandemic measure, Parliament should decriminalise suicide in the September/October meeting starting on Monday and the Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri should announce that no one will be prosecuted for attempted suicide until the law is amended.
The 21-month long Covid-19 pandemic has caused an unusual rise in suicides – with the police recording 638 suicides in the first seven months of 2021, or three suicides a day, as compared to 631 in 2020 and 699 in 2019.
This is the time to decriminalise attempt suicide, which is a crime under the present law.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has further highlighted the fact that a suicide attempt is not an issue of crime, but a social and health problem with more people facing the symptoms of increased depression and stress, such as insomnia, anxiety, irritability and low mood, which may affect their daily functioning.
While the number of people with mental health issues is rising, Malaysia also faces the problem of shortage of psychiatrists.
Malaysia’s psychiatrist-to-patient ratio was only a tenth of the one per 10,000 recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
There are a total of 400 psychiatrists in Malaysia, when there should be 3,100.
Decriminalising suicide attempts should be one of the priority agendas of the new Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin and I urge him, together with the new de facto Law Minister, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaffar to play a leading role to put the decriminalisation of suicide on the statute books.