Consider moratorium on prosecution of those attempting suicide, urges DAP rep

People with suicidal thoughts can reach out to Befrienders for confidential counselling

PETALING JAYA: Kampung Tunku state assemblyman Lim Yi Wei has urged the federal government to consider imposing a moratorium on prosecution of those attempting suicide, even as the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) is studying the law on the matter.

Echoing previous calls by NGOs and mental health advocates, the first term DAP politician said those who attempted suicide needed help – not a jail sentence or fines – especially if they were unemployed and hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis.

“Each failed suicide attempt should not be looked on as an inconvenience, but a life saved. Now that the survivors live, do we support them and help them get back on their feet, or do we further push them to the brink?” Lim asked in a statement.

She said the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent phases of the movement control order (MCO) had taken a toll on Malaysians’ mental health.

Lim Yi Wei

“Job losses, pay cuts, the isolating effect of social distancing, and uncertainty over the pandemic and constantly changing standard operating procedures are some identified major stressors,” added Lim.

According to former de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong, the AGC had informed him in December 2019 that amendments required to decriminalise attempted suicide could be tabled in Parliament as early as June 2020.

However, upon being asked by Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii in Parliament recently, the present de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan said the AGC was still studying the law.

On Tuesday, an unemployed 28-year-old man was fined RM3,000 by the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court under Section 309 of the Penal Code which provides for a maximum jail term of one year or a fine or both for attempting suicide.

In June, an unemployed 42-year-old man who tried using fragments of a broken window pane to stab himself was sentenced to a month’s jail by the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court.

Between March 18 (when the MCO was first implemented) and June 9, the police reported 78 suicides nationwide. There were 64 suicides in the same period last year.