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Suicide Is A Crime In Malaysia, But Isn’t Being Depressed Already Punishment Enough?

today11 July 2021

Background
(TW for depression and suicide. Readers' discretion is advised.)

Every year about 800,000 people take their own lives and for every suicide, there are many more people who attempt to take their life

There are indications that for each adult who died of suicide, there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide.

In a statement in 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned that while there are significant and impactful progress worldwide at addressing this public health crisis, “one person still dies every 40 seconds from suicide”.

What’s notable in this crisis is that suicide is preventable through a nation’s commitment towards building and enforcing a national suicide prevention strategy.

 

Malaysia is no exception to this crisis

In a 2019 report, Malaysia’s age-standardised suicide rate for all ages in 2016 was 6.2 per 100,000 for both sexes. The rates were 8.7 per 100,000 and 3.6 per 100,000 for males and females respectively in Malaysia.

It is reported that about 7% of adolescents in Malaysia have the intention to attempt suicide with half reporting a history of attempting suicide. The Malaysia Psychiatric Association estimated that seven people, comprising mostly of youth and young adults attempt suicide daily.

While there is multiple research published attempting to quantify the numbers in Malaysia, the crisis is a lot more elusive in this part of the world.

 

Efforts and limitations

Efforts have been made by the Malaysian government to monitor suicides through the development of the National Suicide Registry Malaysia. However, the registry brought upon fundamental limitations such that it only registers suicide and not self-harm which is a significant predictor of suicide.

In addition, it only registers medically reported suicide leaving out completed suicides and attempted suicides that are not medically reported. The WHO cautioned that Malaysia’s data had quality issues that rendered the death registration information unavailable or unusable.

The inconsistencies and difficulties in gathering data for suicide and suicidal behaviour in Malaysia can be attributed to the stigma associated with suicide in Malaysia.

Malaysian law criminalises suicide attempts under Section 309 of the Penal Code.

Photo for illustration purposes only.
Image via Yahoo News

 

What does this mean?

Imagine this, you lost your job and are unable to cope with the overwhelming stress.

With the lack of resources to help you both mentally and financially, you attempt to end your life but you survive that attempt. While still struggling with the initial circumstances that brought you to that point, you are now investigated for committing a criminal offence and subsequently sentenced to a month in jail for your actions.

As you manoeuvre through court orders, you can’t help but wonder if a death sentence rather than a month’s jail time would have been a more justified punishment.

Unfortunately, for 42-year-old Jacob Stanley, this is his reality.

He was sentenced to a month’s jail by Magistrate Aina Azahra Arifin as he pleaded guilty to attempting the act at a low-cost flat unit in Sentul at 11pm on 17 May 2020.

 

Read the full story here.

 

If you or anyone you know are in need of emotional support, 
please do not hesitate to call Befrienders at 03-76272929.

 

*Original article by Prishalini Rajagumar. 
*Cover image via Harvard Health 

Written by: Farah Qistina


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