10 pct of Malaysian youths aged 13 to 17 showed suicidal behaviour in 2017

Abdul Karim (centre) at a press conference accompanied by Snowdan (left) and Nancy (right).

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By Ling Hui

KUCHING, July 28: In 2017, approximately 10 in 100 Malaysian youths aged between 13 to 17 showed suicidal behaviours.

Quoting statistics from the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS), Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the 10 per cent in 2017 was a significant increase from 7.9 per cent in 2012.

Although there was no data for recent years on hand, he said the percentage of youth developing suicidal thoughts must be higher in 2020 and 2021, especially after the Covid-19 lockdowns.

“The same study also found 18.3 per cent of youths with tendencies of depression whereby one out of five suffers symptoms of depression, two out of five experience anxiety, and one out of 10 has stress,” he said.

On a global scale, he said, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported one death due to suicide every 40 seconds on average, which makes 800,000 fatalities in a year.

In light of the severity of such mental illnesses, Abdul Karim said his ministry together with Social Community Programmes Urban Society (SCORPUS) Malaysia will be organising the ‘Southeast Asia Youth Mental Health Conferences’ this coming Saturday (July 31) via online webinars.

He noted the conferences themed “Breaking the Mental Health Issues Stigma in ASEAN Amid Pandemic” will start at 8am and end at 4pm, with a half-hour break from 1pm to 1.30pm.

More than 300 participants from Malaysia, Phillipines, Vietnam, Brunei and Indonesia are expected to tune in to the webinar, where nine invited guests will present their research and opinions on mental health, psychology, youth counselling and Covid-19.

The Malaysian panel members include Ministry of Health (MOH) Head of Mental Health and Public Physician Dr Nurashikin Ibrahim, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) psychiatrist Dr Bernard Ting Chuong Hock, Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) psychiatrist Dr Ng Boon Seng and International Islamic University Malaysia psychiatrist Dr Mohd Faiz Md Tahir.

Invited speakers from other countries include Hospital Samarinda psychiatrist Dr Eqachseryanti Zain (Indonesia), counselling psychologist Charlene Lucas (the Philippines), UKCP Accredited Therapist psychoterapist Rachel An Vu (Vietnam), professional counsellor Dr Rusli Bujang (Brunei), and Institute of Mental Health associate consultant Dr Oon Li Keat (Singapore).

“We are also inviting all Malaysian youths including those from Sarawak to join this conference which is still open for registration until Friday (July 30), but please do so as soon as possible.

“Participation is also open to the public and those interested by contacting the ministry’s secretariat at 082-495555,” said Abdul Karim during a press conference to announce the conference at Bangunan Baitulmakmur here today.

Together with Abdul Karim at the press conference were Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan and the Ministry’s permanent secretary Nancy Jolhi. — DayakDaily