Perak saw 9,772 cases of mental illness, 80 suicides since pandemic began, says exco

Depression was cited as the top contributing factor for suicides, said Dr Wan Norashikin.
Depression was cited as the top contributing factor for suicides, said Dr Wan Norashikin.

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IPOH, Aug 27 — A total of 9,772 people suffered mental disturbances in Perak throughout the Covid-19 pandemic from January 2020 to June 2021, the State Legislative Assembly was told today.

State Women and Family Development, Welfare, Community Well-being and NGO Committee chairman Datuk Dr Wan Norashikin Wan Noordin said 5,213 mental illness cases were registered from January to December last year while 4,559 cases were registered from January to June this year.

“According to statistics released by the police, the number of suicides in Perak since the Movement Control Order was implemented from March 2020 to July 2021 is 80 people,” she said.

Depression was cited as the top contributing factor for suicides, based on data from 33 cases, she said.

However, Dr Wan Norashikin said that in 24 cases, the reasons for suicide were unknown.

Other contributing reasons that could be pinned down were financial problems (13), illness (four), drugs (three) and mental problems (also three).

“If broken down by ethnic composition, the Chinese have the highest suicide cases at 32; followed by Indians at 29 cases; others, 11 cases; and Malays eight cases,” she said.

She added that suicides were more prevalent among men (66) than women (14).

Dr Wan Norashikin was responding to Changkat Jong assemblyman Datuk Mohd Azhar Jamauddin who asked for the statistics on mental disturbances and suicide cases since the Covid-19 outbreak started in Malaysia.

Dr Wan Norashikin also shared the preventive measures taken by the state government to address this problem.

One of them is the Talian Kasih helpline, set up under the State Welfare Department to handle mental disturbances and other issues such as domestic abuse, children and women abuse and many more.

“We have also set up Waja Squad (Women Anti-Crime) under the Women Development Department with a total of 270 volunteers at all 24 Parliamentary constituencies in the state.

“The Health Department also provides targeted mental health screening, psychological first aid sessions, distribution of mental health psycholearning materials and psychosocial helpline.

“Apart from that, the police, State Islamic Religious Department and the Ministry of Communication and Multimedia have been helping in enforcement, spiritual advice and promoting mental health awareness respectively,” Dr Wan Norashikin said.

She added that parents play a vital role in educating their children on mental health and inculcating spirituality as long-term measures.

*If you are lonely, distressed, or having negative thoughts, Befrienders offers free and confidential support 24 hours a day. Contact Befrienders KL at 03-79568145 or 04-281 5161/1108 in Penang, or 05-547 7933/7955 in Ipoh, or 088 255 788 in Sabah, or email [email protected]. There are also free hotlines for young people. Talian Kasih at 15999 (24/7); and Talian BuddyBear at 1800-18-2327(BEAR)(daily 12pm-12am).

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