Govt finalising decriminalisation of attempted suicide
KUALA LUMPUR - The government is in the process of finalising policies and several bills to decriminalise attempted suicide so it can be handled as a public health issue.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Ramkarpal Singh said since the end of December last year, he had chaired 10 engagement sessions and meetings with various stakeholders.
He said among the parties involved were government agencies; Members of Parliament; State Legislative Assembly members and Singapore Home Affairs Ministry to examine and resolve all legal matters that arise in this effort.
"The government through the Attorney-General Chambers has conducted an in-depth study about the offence of attempted suicide under Section 309 of the Penal Code and the proposed repeal of this law.
"The study has examined the approach taken by several countries to evaluate the justification and implications of its implementation in terms of legislation.
"As the next step, a Cabinet Memorandum about it will be submitted to the Cabinet in the near future for approval and immediately after, all relevant bills will be presented in Parliament for discussion and approval," he told the Dewan Rakyat here today.
He said this in response to a question from Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (PH - Bandar Kuching) who asked him to state the progress of the government's announcement to amend Section 309 of the Penal Code which is to decriminalise attempted suicide in order to address the issue of the increasing number of suicide cases in Malaysia.
Ramkarpal further explained that the National Health and Morbidity Survey conducted by the Public Health Institute, Health Ministry in 2019 found that the prevelance of depression among Malaysians aged 16 and above was 2.3 per cent which equals to 500,000 people.
However, he said after the Covid-19 pandemic, issues related to mental health showed an increase and there is even a hike in the number of calls received by the Healthy Ministry's Psychosocial Support Helpline.
He said from January to December, 2021, the total number of calls received was 212,319 calls and it is almost a fivefold increase compared to 44,061 calls in 2020.
"Issues related to mental health is not new and it has existed in Malaysia for a long time.
"Studies show that individuals who suffer depression are 20 times more likely to display suicidal behavior and die due to suicide," he said.
Therefore, he said it clearly shows that the issue of attempted suicide needs to be handled as a health issue and not as criminal offence.