PETALING JAYA: Mental health organisations have urged the authorities to show compassion to people with suicidal tendencies and to abstain from using the law that makes it a crime to attempt suicide.
Befrienders KL publicity director Ardy Ayadali said the threat of punishment would do little to reduce suicide cases and Malaysian Mental Health Association president Dr Andrew Mohanraj noted that much of the rest of the world had decriminalised suicide.
They were commenting on the case of a man who was fined RM3,000 by a Kuala Lumpur court early this week for attempting suicide by jumping from his flat’s balcony.
Last June, the court sentenced another man to a month’s jail for trying to stab himself with fragments from a broken glass window.
Ardy warned that those failing in their suicide attempts were likely to try it again.
“As for those who have been charged or put in jail, when they are released and the suicidal feelings return, they will make sure the next attempt is fatal,” he told FMT.
“That is worse because it means we have been unable to save another life.”
He said the law was making the police feel forced to charge suicidal people instead of referring them to hospitals to get psychiatric care.
During the first month of the enforcement of the movement control order, Befrienders saw a 41% increase in distress calls related to anxiety, depression and financial and unemployment issues. Of these cases, 34% were suicidal, Ardy said.
Mohanraj said Malaysia should work towards removing the stigma on mental illness.
“An empathetic approach towards those afflicted with serious mental illness will go a long way in creating a compassionate, inclusive and resilient society,” he said in a media statement.
On Wednesday, Kampung Tunku state assemblyman Lim Yi Wei urged the federal government to consider imposing a moratorium on the prosecution of attempted suicide cases while it works towards repealing the relevant law.