KOTA BHARU, Sept 11 — The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) has assigned more than 30 staff to provide counselling and psychological assistance to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary said the services would be provided to the public through the hotline 03-8870 7519 or 03-8870 7527, which had been established a year ago.

“This hotline is established to help affected individuals to deal with depression, questions about mental health and also family-related matters,” he told reporters during the Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (YADIM) Peduli: Musaadah YADIM-Bank Islam programme at the Dataran Muhammadi, here today.

Meanwhile, when asked to comment on the increase of 143 per cent in suicides in the country, Ahmad Marzuk said with the availability of the hotline it is hoped to at least provide a channel to those who are under such immense stress that some of them end up committing suicide.

“Usually, this suicide is due to mental stress, and Jakim has created this hotline so that anyone can call us for help.

“Sometimes there are ways for them to solve the problems, but they may not have the knowledge (to solve the matter), so we will try to help them, including suggesting seeking help at the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) or at the states’ religious councils,” he said.

Yesterday, the media reported that the Health director-general, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, said a total of 638 suicides were reported in the country between January and July this year, an increase of 143 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Meanwhile, in a related development, Ahmad Marzuk said Malaysia is a country that is very concerned about the welfare of its people if compared with other countries.

“Our country has spent a large allocation solely to look after the welfare and well-being of the people. What is important, in our country, the people are protected, and there is food to eat.

He said apart from the existing facilities, the government also provided assistance to the people, and these efforts are seen as important measures to ensure that the stress or problems faced could be lessened. — Bernama