Decriminalise Suicide, Say Sarawak NGOs

Mental Health Association of Sarawak and Befrienders Kuching also want insurance coverage for mental illness.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Two mental health groups from Sarawak called today for the decriminalisation of attempted suicide that is punishable with one years’ jail.

Mental Health Association of Sarawak (MHAS) and Befrienders Kuching said the police and other related agencies should instead introduce standard operating procedures to help those who attempt suicide.

“This archaic law is not only inhumane and counter-productive, but it is also likely to drive those who attempt suicide to succeed on their first attempt,” said both non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in a joint statement.

Section 309 of the Penal Code punishes attempted suicide with one year’s imprisonment or a fine or both.

The NGOs also called for insurance coverage of mental illnesses like depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

They said social media platforms should have a reporting system to call out any suicidal posts.

“Open conversations about mental well-being and mental health conditions that are non-judgmental and non-stigmatising are crucial to foster an environment that allows people going through mental health issues to speak up, be understood and feel supported.”

Suicide among youths has grabbed national attention after a 16-year-old girl from Kuching, Sarawak, allegedly killed herself following an Instagram poll in which her followers purportedly supported her choice to die.

If you need emotional support, call Befrienders Kuching at 082-242800 (operational from 6.30pm till 9.30pm) or email them at [email protected].

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