Amend Penal Code to decriminalise attempted suicide, says Dr Yii

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, Oct 25: The federal government must take serious steps in amending Section 305, 306 and 309 of the Penal Code to “decriminalise attempted suicide”.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said such steps need to be taken so that those in need of help are not treated as criminals, but rather given the necessary treatment and support system to help them through it.

“I welcome the Health Ministry’s intention to revive the National Suicide Registry, so that there is a proper data to deal with this important issue.

“However, all that will be futile if we do not start with the decriminalising of attempted suicide. Otherwise, people will be afraid to make the necessary report,” he said in a statement.

Dr Yii believed there is a need to have a serious conversation about mental health in Sarawak and the country, especially among the young people.

He added that this was not just to raise awareness and to de-stigmatise the issue, but so that the people all can understand the issue better and even spot signs and symptoms to help those in need of emotional and mental support to avoid any loss of precious lives especially among the young people.

“Mental Health may be a subject that many have heard very often, but little is known about it.

“My heart broke when I read the news of a bright and talented 19-year-old ending his life prematurely. There are many other cases in Sarawak and among it includes the 16-year-old Instagram case,” he said.

Dr Yii said that he can imagine the pain the family of the 19-year-old is going through during this tough time as it is just not the natural way of things for the parents to bury their child, but rather, the other way round.

The DAP lawmaker’s comment came in light of Sarawak swimmer Ayrton Lim, 19, who was found dead at his family home in Tabuan Laru, here, yesterday.

He was found unconscious by his mother, who then informed the police. According to the mother, the deceased had been in a state of depression the past three days.

Dr Yii also made reference to a teenager from Padawan, who allegedly conducted an online poll via her Instagram account prior to the her death. She was believed to have fallen from the third floor of a shoplot building at MJC Batu Kawa, here, last May.

He disclosed that the Institute of Public Health, in its National Health and Morbidity Survey 2017 on mental health among youths, revealed that one out of five adolescents feels depressed; two out of five feels anxious; 11.2 per cent have suicidal ideation and 10.1 per cent had attempted suicide.

He said there is currently about 5.5 million adolescent in Malaysia as of 2018, while adding that half of all mental illness cases begin at the age of 14, although most cases go undetected and untreated.

Dr Yii explained that in terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause, while suicide is the second leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 29.

It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds. In 2012, about 39 per cent of global suicide occurred in the Southeast Asia region, he said.

“That is why important conversations such as mental health need to be carried out among our youths, even when they are still in school, to help them understand and deal with it as we build better mental resilience in this ever-changing world.

“The more we talk about it, the more this issue becomes a norm and people suffering from it can come out safely to seek help without judgement or stigma.” — DayakDaily