Calls on Malaysian lawmakers to speak up on mental health issues

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye yesterday called on Members of Parliament (MPs) to give serious attention to mental health issues in Malaysia.

He also urged the government to abolish laws criminalising suicide attempts.

Lee said a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Suicide Prevention in 2014, stated that in countries where suicide is considered a criminal act, suicide attempts were often hidden and suicidal deaths went unreported, thus giving the false impression that suicidal behaviours are less prevalent.

He said that the Attorney-General should also review the legal provisions in relation to suicide to ensure it does not deter people from seeking help and not to prosecute suicide attempters.

“I am calling for the decriminalisation of suicide, and to repeal Section 309 of the Penal Code because criminalisng people who attempt suicide or individuals with suicidal thoughts would be doing a great injustice to those suffering from depression, anxiety, and many other mental illnesses,” he said yesterday.

Lee added there was no evidence suggesting that if this law is removed the number of suicide cases would be higher,” he added.