KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 – The Attorney-General’s Chambers will study the government’s proposal to remove the offence of attempted suicide from the Penal Code, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail announced today.
The deputy prime minister, who is also the minister of women, family, and community development, said an inter-ministerial meeting on mental health that she chaired today also decided to consider making emotional support helplines like Befrienders and Talian Kasih 15999 toll-free.
“Depression is the number one incapacitation among Malaysians,” Dr Wan Azizah said in a statement.
“The effect of mental illnesses on the Malaysian economy is estimated to reach US$25.3 billion in 2030.”
Section 309 of the Penal Code punishes attempted suicide with one year’s jail, or a fine, or both.
Dr Wan Azizah said the meeting comprising the Health Ministry; the Communications and Multimedia Ministry; the Education Ministry; the Youth and Sports Ministry; the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry; the Home Ministry; the Office of the Minister of Religious Affairs; and the police also decided to declare October as mental health awareness month and to launch a national mental health campaign called “Let’s Talk Malaysia”.
A “Family Declaration” campaign will also be launched on National Day to instill family values.
The PKR president cited a 2017 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) that found 10 per cent suicidal ideation prevalence among teens aged 13 to 17, up from 7.9 per cent in 2012.
The 2015 NHMS found prevalence of mental health problems among those aged 16 and above was 29.2 per cent, almost three times higher than 10.7 per cent in 1996.
“Mental health is very important because it involves all layers of society: children, teenagers, young people, adults, and senior citizens, be it women or men,” said Dr Wan Azizah.
The case of a 16-year-old girl from Kuching who allegedly killed herself last May 13 after an Instagram poll supported her choice to die had captured national attention.