AGC to undertake review to decriminalise attempted suicide, says Wan Azizah

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

PUTRAJAYA: The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) will be asked to review Section 309 of the Penal Code with a view to decriminalising attempted suicide, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismai said.

She said this was among the decisions made at a mental wellbeing meeting she chaired today.

The meeting also decided that calls to Talian Kasih (15999) and Befrienders would not be charged.

In a statement, Wan Azizah said it was also agreed that a “Family Declaration” campaign would be launched in conjunction with Malaysia Day.

The meeting involved several ministries – health; communications and multimedia; education; youth and sports; women, family and community development; and home affairs – the Religious Affairs Department and the Royal Malaysia Police.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the women, family and community development minister, said the committee agreed that October would be declared a mental wellbeing awareness month.

She said a national awareness campaign, themed “Let’s talk Malaysia”, would also be organised in an effort to remove the stigma related to mental health.

She said the incident last month in which a 16-year-old girl committed suicide after 69% of her Instagram followers voted “death” in an opinion poll she posted showed that mental wellbeing awareness needed to be improved.

“It showed the negative influence and negative effect that social media has on the younger generation,” she said.

Wan Azizah said the National Health and Morbidity Survey conducted by the health ministry in 2015 found that the prevalence of mental health problems among those aged 16 and above was 29.2% – three times higher than the 10.7% recorded in 1996.

“In 2017, a similar survey focusing on students aged 13 to 17 found the prevalence of ideas to commit suicide to be 10%, compared to 7.9% in 2012.

“This is a worrying development and a holistic approach is required to address the situation,” she said.

She also noted that depression was the main mental disability among Malaysians, and that mental illness could cost the country RM105 billion economically in 2030.