Don’t punish suicidal persons, say psychologists


PETALING JAYA: Two psychologists have lamented a recent court decision to impose a RM2,000 fine on a jobless woman who had attempted suicide.

She should have been treated with mercy, said Fauziah Mohd Sa’ad of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris and Hilwa Abdullah of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in interviews with FMT.

They were commenting on Thursday’s decision by the Petaling Jaya Magistrate’s Court.

Fauziah said the 24-year-old woman, Yew Kah Sin, would be placed under greater stress by the punishment.

“I understand that attempting suicide is against the law, but speaking as a psychologist, I feel we should be more compassionate,” she said.

“A person who attempts suicide is usually depressed and not thinking clearly. I think the court should first send her to a psychologist and if she is depressed, then she should be given support.”

Fauziah said it would be a different case altogether if the person wasn’t actually suicidal but resorted to dangerous acts as a means of getting attention. That would be something only a psychologist could accurately assess, she added.

Hilwa also said emotional support should be the preferred method of dealing with suicidal persons.

“When people want to commit suicide, they aren’t thinking of anything else. And after their attempt, they have to deal with other stresses, sometimes from their loved ones.

“To handle this, we need the stakeholders – family members, employers, the authorities and society as a whole – to be supportive rather than to focus on punishment alone.”

Yew pleaded guilty to attempted suicide by slashing her left wrist and right hand with a knife. She was admitted to a hospital and received 30 stitches.

Magistrate Salamiah Salleh said suicide was not a solution no matter how much pressure a person faced. The punishment was imposed to drive home the point that attempting suicide was a crime, she added.