PUTRAJAYA, June 13 — The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) will be directed to review Section 309 of the Penal Code towards decriminalisation of attempted suicide, according to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
She said the issue was among the decisions made at the Mental Wellbeing Meeting which she chaired today.
Another decision made at the meeting was that calls for ‘Talian Kasih’ (15999) and Befrienders line would not be charged.
In a statement, she said it was also agreed at the meeting that a ‘Family Declaration’ campaign would be launched in conjunction with Malaysia Day.
The meeting involved the ministries of Health; Communications and Multimedia; Education; Youth and Sports; Women, Family and Community Development; Home Affairs; Religious Affairs; and Royal Malaysia Police.
The committee also agreed for October to be declared a mental wellbeing awareness month, and for a national awareness campaign, “Let’s talk Malaysia” to be organised, in the government’s efforts to remove the stigma related to mental health among the society.
Dr Wan Azizah who is also women, family and community development minister said the incident last month in which a 16-year-old girl committed suicide after 69 per cent of her Instagram followers voted ‘death’ in an opinion poll she posted showed that mental wellbeing awareness needed to be improved.
“It showed the negative influence and negative effect social media has on the young generation,” she said.
Meanwhile, she noted that the National Health and Morbidity Survey conducted by the Health Ministry in 2015 found that the prevalence of mental health problems among those aged 16 and above was 29.2 per cent or three times higher, from 10.7 per cent in 1996.
“In 2017, a similar survey focusing on students aged 13 to 17 found the prevalence of idea to commit suicide to be 10 per cent compared to 7.9 per cent in 2012; this is a worrying development and a holistic approach is required to address the situation,” she said.
Dr Wan Azizah further noted that depression was the main mental disability among Malaysians, and that mental illness could cost the country US$25.3 (RM105.47) billion economically in 2030. — Bernama
* In Malaysia, suicide helpline Befrienders offers free and confidential support 24 hours a day via 03-79568145.