'Listen without judgement': Expert urges compassion for mental health struggles

Creating safe spaces for openness on mental health

30 Mar 2024 11:01am
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo by 123RF.
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo by 123RF.
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KUALA LUMPUR - Society must respect the feelings of individuals facing emotional pressure by listening to their anguish without prejudice or belittling the issues they face in order to help them move on with their lives.

Universiti Malaya deputy dean of the Faculty of Education Dr Azmawaty Mohamad Nor said that negative perceptions towards those facing mental health issues will increase their fear of expressing their feelings, thus causing them to isolate themselves and increase the risk of suicide attempts.

"It causes them to feel like whatever they do, people will look down on them, and the characteristics we are concerned about are when they start isolating themselves. They'll also start feeling that life is meaningless and attempt suicide.

"They feel like committing suicide when they see no way out or space to be heard," she said in an interview on Bernama TV recently.

As a result, she said, the government’s move to abolish Section 309 of the Penal Code involving attempted suicide offences is the best step in helping those affected to seek assistance.

"We want to treat, not punish because they are affected individuals, so the best way is to provide space and assistance, bring them to counselling services because one of the factors is they don't have access to this space, causing them to feel trapped and finding it difficult to break free from that cocoon," she said.

Azmawaty elaborated that many previous studies have shown that the method of punishment for attempting suicide does not help but rather prevents them from having space to talk and express their feelings.

In 2022, a total of 703,000 individuals were found to commit suicide, with only a 40-second difference between each death. - BERNAMA

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