KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — The media must be more responsible when reporting on suicides and should follow the Ministry of Health (MOH) guidelines when doing so, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.

Expressing his concerns on the rising rate of suicides reported recently, Dr Noor Hisham urged the public to be more aware of people suffering from depression around them.

He said signs such as depression, loss of interest in regular activities, difficulty in focusing, isolation, lack of sleep and loss of appetite were among signs of someone suicidal and urged them to seek medical help.

“The public can help if they can communicate effectively with a depressive individual,” Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement today.

He also advised the public to not trivialise someones’ depression, instead urging others to spend time talking to them, be empathic, keep in communication with the person, while encouraging them to seek medical help.

“The media can play an important role here by spreading accurate information and by adhering to the Guidelines for Responsible Media Reporting on suicide that was published by MOH’s Control Department regarding suicidal behaviour,” he added.

According to Dr Noor Hisham, there were 631 suicides in 2020 compared to 609 in 2019 going by the Royal Malaysian Police data and as of March 2021, 336 suicides have been reported by them.

“As such please respect the families of the deceased and do not record videos or spread pictures on social media regarding the individual who committed suicide. It can be prevented but by making it viral it can invite other ‘copycat suicides’ for those who are at risk,” he said.

The statement provided these contact numbers for those suffering from depression or have suicidal tendencies:

* Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service: 03-29359935 or 014-3223392

* Talian Kasih: 15999 or 019-2615999

* Befrienders Kuala Lumpur: at 03-76272929