Kuala Langat MP Calls For Better Mental Health Services As Government Bids To Decriminalise Attempted Suicide

Kuala Langat MP Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi urges government support for a dedicated recovery and treatment centre to aid individuals in emotional distress or contemplating self-harm.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 – Kuala Langat MP Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi has called for significant improvements in mental health services as the government pushes forward with its efforts to decriminalise attempted suicide.

The Opposition MP, who heads Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) health portfolio, highlighted the need to provide timely interventions and support to individuals facing emotional distress or contemplating self-harm.

“When someone attempts suicide, we need to address the aftermath of that attempt. It is not simply about apprehending individuals and sending them to hospitals for mental health diagnosis. We need to implement mitigating measures.

“Therefore, it is not solely about punishment but also finding appropriate methods or facilities for them to receive treatment. This involves not only pharmacological interventions but also incorporating religious approaches for Muslim individuals. Islamic teachings can serve as a mitigating factor or contribute to their recovery.

“I believe that although our Penal Code is derived from India’s legal system, it originated from the British system influenced by Christian beliefs, where suicide is considered a major sin. Similarly, in Islam, the federal religion of this country, it is also regarded as a significant transgression. This approach could be particularly relevant for the Muslim community.

“The effort to decriminalise attempted suicide is commendable. However, as previously mentioned, I hope that the government will assume responsibility for establishing a centre dedicated to recovery and treatment.

“If we have existing facilities and rehabilitation centers to address drug-related issues, I firmly believe that we can establish similar centers to support the community and ultimately achieve our goal of reducing suicide attempts,” said Dr Ahmad Yunus during his debate on the Penal Code (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2023, which aims to remove attempted suicide as a criminal offence.

The proposed Penal Code (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2023 aims to modify several sections of the existing Penal Code (Act 574), primarily focusing on the removal of the offence of attempting to commit suicide.

Under Clause 2 of the bill, the existing section 305 of Act 574 will be substituted. Currently, this section only criminalises the act of abetting suicide for specific vulnerable individuals, such as children, those with mental illnesses, delirious individuals, persons lacking mental capacity, or those in a state of intoxication. However, the proposed amendment expands the scope by including the abetment of attempted suicide for children or individuals lacking mental capacity as criminal offences.

Similarly, Clause 3 of the bill seeks to substitute the existing section 306 of Act 574. Presently, this section addresses the offence of abetting suicide by any person. With the proposed amendment, the abetment of attempted suicide by any person will also be considered a criminal offence.

In a significant move, Clause 4 of the bill intends to delete section 309 of Act 574, effectively eliminating the offense of attempting to commit suicide. This amendment marks the removal of attempted suicide as a criminal offence under Act 574.

These proposed amendments reflect a shift in the legal framework, decriminalising the act of attempted suicide and aligning it with evolving societal perspectives on mental health and wellbeing. 

The bill emphasises the need for a more compassionate approach to individuals who experience emotional distress and highlights the importance of providing appropriate support and intervention rather than punitive measures.

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