Mental health issues, stress behind the recent tragic crimes?

06 Jan 2024 01:00pm
Surge in crime rates may be attributed to a combination of factors, ranging from mental health issue to socio-economic stressors.
Photo source: Free stock images
Surge in crime rates may be attributed to a combination of factors, ranging from mental health issue to socio-economic stressors. Photo source: Free stock images

SHAH ALAM – The surge in crime rates may be attributed to a combination of factors, ranging from mental health issues to socio-economic stressors.

KPJ Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital Clinical Psychologist Ummu Nazra Nadzam said individuals who deal with financial difficulties, social and economic challenges as well as health-related concerns might find themselves more susceptible to various mental health issues.

Ummu pointed out that mental health problems such as depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety could act as underlying factors that exacerbated the impact of additional stressors.

"There are several different aspects that contribute to whatever they are dealing with namely, financial, social economy, health aspects.

"First contributing factors would be the mental health issues, underlined issues like depression, ADHD and anxiety.

Ummu said the existing mental health conditions with external stressors, such as the high cost of living, post-pandemic stress, work-related pressures and even traffic congestion could lead individuals to resort to harmful coping mechanisms including substance abuse and detachment from reality.

"This is where will lead people will use substances, detach from reality and murder people, anger issues, aggressive towards others," she told Sinar Daily.

"We see this as a secondary emotion, not a primary emotion. Primary emotions like sadness and anger often stem from frustration, jealousy or embarrassment.

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"When individuals experience these primary emotions and add on additional stressors, it becomes a worrying situation," Ummu said.

The psychologist said the escalation from primary emotions to secondary emotions, such as anger might manifest in aggressive behaviour which leads to crimes, violence and other destructive actions.

Therefore, Ummu emphasised that understanding and addressing mental health issues were crucial in preventing such outcomes.

Meanwhile, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) Psychology counselling expert Associate Professor Dr Fauziah Mohd Sa'ad echoed these sentiments and stressed the need for a comprehensive analysis of individual cases to identify specific sources of influence on criminal behaviour.

Fauziah acknowledged the multifaceted nature of the issue and attributed the increase in gruesome crimes to socioeconomic stressors, mental health challenges and broader societal issues.

"The high cost of living, post-pandemic stress, work-related pressures and traffic congestion collectively contribute to heightened stress levels.

"These factors can potentially impact individuals' mental well-being and behaviour, paving the way for an increase in crime rates," said Ummu.

Last month, there had been an increase in the crime rates which raised concerns among the community in Malaysia.

  • On Dec 5, an economy rice seller in his 60s died after being stabbed 27 times in a car park in Jelutong by unknown assailants. Teh Teik Chye died due to serious injuries to his chest and neck and was declared dead when receiving treatment at the Penang Hospital.
  • On Dec 6, a six-year-old autistic boy who was reported missing at Idaman Apartment here was found dead. Police confirmed that Zayn Rayyan was killed before being placed nearby a stream about 200 metres from the apartment.
  • On Dec 9, a 42-year-old man was detained after he allegedly stabbed his elderly parents to death at their home in Kampung Sungai Penchala. The man had nine past records for drug-related offences.
  • On Dec 11, the body of a private company accountant was found face down in the nude by passersby at about 6am along Jalan Kuari, Kampung Cheras Baru. The 28-year-old man was believed to have been murdered.
  • On Dec 15, Muhammad Zaharif Affendi Muhd Zamrie was hit by a car by a senior police officer while he was on his way home at Taman Chepor Sentosa from his school, SMK Jati in Meru, Perak. It was understood that before the incident, there was an altercation involving the car driver Mohd Nazri Abdul Razak and the victim who was revving up his motorcycle engine. The car driver chased the victim for almost a kilometre before hitting him from behind.
  • On Dec 16, a woman died after she was believed to have been bashed by her husband with a dumbbell due to jealousy. The 33-year-old victim, a lecturer at a college in Miri, Sarawak, had injuries in several parts of her body. She had returned here for a holiday to attend a family member's wedding,
  • On Dec 19, a man jumped from the Penang Bridge after he allegedly killed a woman at Jalan Raja Uda in Butterworth, Penang. The suspect allegedly slashed the victim on the back of her neck with a machete.
  • On the same day, a local singer was brutally murdered after being stabbed several times in the front and back by a man in broad daylight at Jalan Bayu Tinggi 5, Taman Chi Liung, in Klang on Monday.
With the rising number of case, experts highlighted that it is high time to improve mental health treatment access for all especially in rural areas, addressing work-life balance in the office and increasing awareness play a crucial role in combatting mental health.