National Coalition for Mental Wellbeing Renews Call for Urgent Implementation of Moratorium on Charges under Section 309 of the Penal Code and Expeditious Tabling of Legislation in Parliament to Decriminalise Attempted Suicide.
Last Friday, September 10th, 2021 was World Suicide Prevention Day. In conjunction with this day, many leaders from the Government, Opposition as well as other key organisations and movements made various statements calling for the decriminalisation of attempted suicide in Malaysia and for the implementation of a moratorium on prosecution in the interim.
The National Coalition for Mental Wellbeing is heartened by the outpouring of solidarity by the many voices lending their support to champion this worthy cause. The words of our Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on his Twitter as well as the comments by the Health Director General Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah is commended and welcomed by the NCMW.
In line with this, the NCMW would like to once again urge our leaders to expeditiously table the relevant legislation in Parliament to decriminalise attempted suicide. Any further delay would be tantamount to an injustice for the individuals that may be subjected to this dated provision. The absurdity of this legislation and its place in modern day mental health intervention has been exhaustively discussed and echoed by countless individuals and organisations both globally and locally. The NCMW has also released statements previously on the need to move towards better practices and policies when dealing with mental health crises.
In the interim, the NCMW strongly urges for a moratorium to be imposed and for the Attorney General’s Chambers to not proffer any charges under Section 309 of the Penal Code (Act 574). Any actions under this section would not bring about any satisfactory resolution and would likely result in
worse outcomes for not only the individual but for society as a whole. This is due to the message it sends to people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. Individuals who may consider seeking proper treatment could become hesitant due to how hostile the system appears to be. This would be devastating to not only the people struggling but their families and communities as well.
It is clear that the decriminalisation of attempted suicide is long overdue. Time and time again, we are returning back to the same stalled conversations. There is nothing new about the statements or petitions from this year, it mirrors the conversations and efforts that have been going on for years. The NCMW hopes that this time next year, we would be releasing statements on how Malaysia has decriminalised attempted suicide and the progress that has been achieved between now and September 2022. We cannot afford to lose any more lives to this preventable and highly manageable mental health epidemic.
We once again strongly call upon our leaders to take the necessary steps to move for the decriminalisation of attempted suicide by tabling the relevant legislation in Parliament.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
– Chinese Proverb
Decriminalisation Focus Group
National Coalition for Mental Wellbeing
13th September 2021