CM wants more study on suicides among young in Sarawak

Abang Johari (centre) speaking to the press after launching the 29th World Congress of the International Association for Suicidal Prevention at the Borneo Convention Centre in Kuching. -

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KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg calls for more research on suicidal behaviour in Sarawak.

Abang Johari said the study will give a clearer picture of the extent of this problem in the state, its causes and approaches to managing this distressing problem among our people.

Opening the 29th World Congress of the International Association for Suicidal Prevention at the Borneo Convention Centre in Kuching (BCCK) today, the chief minister also gave the assurance that the state government would give due consideration to requests for assistance in the pursuit of improving mental health and reduce suicidal behavior in the state.

He said he would like all aspects that contributed to people, especially the young, committing suicide to be addressed by teachers, parents and relevant agencies.

“For this they must be adequately trained. That would involve an appropriate allocation of budget for all aspects of mental health promotion, especially among schoolchildren, building resilience among them,” he said.

Abang Johari said while there may be many reasons for suicide among young people, he was personally very concerned about bullying in schools, which he said had become an important contributory factor.

He also spoke of the pressure put upon students to achieve academic excellence which had contributed to increased numbers of suicides following the announcement of results of major examinations.

He said he would like all those aspects which helped push young people to take their own life be addressed.

“Suicidal behavior is a very distressing matter. I have been informed that more than 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, and for every person who dies by suicide, about 20 persons from their family and friends are affected.

“It has become a public health concern, one that calls for concerted action not only by professionals and governing authorities, but all sectors of society.”

Abang Johari said aside from personal distress, mental illness also affects social and occupational functioning and productivity.

“Mental illness and suicide not only cause emotional pain to the sufferers and caregivers, but also result in economic loss to the nation that may amount to millions of ringgit,” he said in the congress that was also held in conjunction with the 21th Malaysian conference on psychological medicine.

The latest National Health and Morbidity Survey showed that almost 30% of the Malaysian general population experiences mental health problems. –