AGC, KDN agree to decriminalise suicide attempts

Section 309 of the Penal Code which punishes those who attempt to commit suicide will be abolish, deputy minister says


HOME Ministry (KDN) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) have agreed to decriminalise suicide attempts.

Deputy Health Minister II Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that both parties have agreed to abolish Section 309 of the Penal Code which punishes those who attempt to commit suicide.

“The matter will be brought to the Cabinet for discussion on the amendment to ensure those who attempt suicide will not be charged anymore,” he said in a response to a query from Kemaman MP Che Alias Hamid.

A suicide attempt is deemed as a crime in Malaysia and is punishable by a term of imprisonment or fine under Section 309 of the Penal Code.

In the first five months of 2021, Malaysia reported a total of 468 suicide cases, with Selangor recorded the highest number of cases.

According to the Criminal Investigation Department director CP Datuk Seri Abd Jalil Hassan, the state recorded a total of 117 or 25% of the total suicide cases.

During the period of 2019 to May 2021, the suicide cases reported involved 1,427 women and 281 men.

The deputy minister said Health Ministry (MoH) is committed to implement efforts to mitigate mental health among communities to ensure the public’s wellbeing and lessens suicide cases in the country.

Among the long-term strategies planned by the ministry include the development of National Mental Health Strategic Plan (2020-2025) which will be launched on Oct 10 in conjunction with the Global Mental Health Day.

The plan outlined clear strategies to prevent suicides and focuses on collaboration between government and private agencies as well as NGOs in promoting mental health awareness to target groups.

It also provides better access to mental health services while promoting strategies to prepare one in a crisis or emergencies.

MoH will also strengthen mental health and psychosocial support by adding psychology counsellors and social workers at community levels to enhance mental health services and prevent substance abuse.

He said 200 counsellors have been placed at each state and districts to provide intervention services for those who require them.

“MoH will advocates mental health to target groups and communities as a whole across agencies which includes mass media, social media and stakeholders,” the deputy minister said.

Other measures taken by MoH to promote mental health awareness in the country is by enhancing suicidal behaviour management skills through continuous training for first-line responders like health personnel, police and firefighters.