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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Suhakam alarmed by rise of suicides, calls for revival of registry

 


The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) said it is alarmed by the rise of suicides and suicide attempts during the pandemic and called for more effective measures as well as support for those in need of assistance.

The commission also urged the government to revive the establishment of the National Suicide Registry Malaysia (NSRM) to provide public access to data on suicides in the country.

“The pandemic has taken a toll on the physical wellbeing and mental health of many people, particularly those who experienced a sudden loss of income,” Suhakam said in a statement today.

The commission said more needs to be done to address the crisis and believed that mental health support must be made available to vulnerable individuals, especially those having suicidal thoughts.

“There are many risk factors which may lead to suicidal thoughts and suicides including medical, psychosocial or financial distress, which are further compounded by social isolation, the lack of family support or inability to access counselling or mental health services.

“Equal access to timely and appropriate care and assistance should be provided to those who are most vulnerable, including children, the poor, downtrodden and marginalised, as that would be afforded to the general Malaysian society,” the commission said.

They added that information on early signs of mental health problems and access to mental health care and support needs to be publicised, while also recognising and eradicating stigma against those who have mental health problems.

Meanwhile, Suhakam said reviving the NSRM would help in coming up with long term solutions to prevent suicides.

“Quality data collection system that includes age, gender, ethnicity, state, and the manner in which the suicide is carried out, will facilitate the development of effective policies and long-term solutions in preventing suicides in the society,” Suhakam explained.

The registry was first opened in 2007 but was closed in 2009. Plans to relaunch the NSRM were mooted by the Health Ministry in 2019 under the previous Pakatan Harapan administration.

Suhakam lamented that suicides in Malaysia are often recorded as “accidental death” rather than “suicide”, causing a lack of psycho-social support that is supposed to be provided to suicide victims’ families - which in turn risk others developing suicidal thoughts.

The commission also called for more effective government measures to tackle the root causes of mental distress during the pandemic.

“In the interest of reducing socioeconomic pressures on the society during the Covid-19 pandemic, Suhakam calls for expedient vaccination rollout, expansion of voluntary testing and early detection, and targeted movement control orders,” the commission said.

Allowing more economic sectors to regain access to work as well as the resumption of schools will return some normalcy to people’s lives, Suhakam said, and possibly reduce the incidence of suicides.

Suhakam said all parties including government ministries and agencies, NGOs, civil societies and members of the society at large have respective roles in overcoming the worrying rise of suicide cases in recent months.

Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham yesterday revealed that 336 suicide cases were reported in just the first three months this year, accounting for more than half of the total 631 cases reported during the entire last year.


If you are feeling depressed or suicidal, or know someone who is, please call the following hotlines:

Agape Counselling Centre Malaysia

Hotline: 03-77855955 or 7781 0800

The Befrienders

Hotline: 03-79568144 or 03-79568145

Life Line Association Malaysia

Hotline: 03-42657995

- Mkini

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