Suicide cases in Malaysia tripled to 638 compared to last year – KJ
14 Oct 2021
By Wartawan Nabalu News
KUALA LUMPUR: Data from the Royal Malaysian Police showed that 638 suicide cases were recorded from January to June this year, triple the amount compared to last year of the same period which is 262, said Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
In his keynote address, he said even more worrying was the increase in deaths due to suicide among adolescents aged between 15 to 18, which doubled from 2019 to 2020.
To tackle this issue, he revealed that the Ministry of Health will invest more in the digitalisation of mental health services with the usage of technology and one of them being the National Strategic Plan for Mental Health 2020-2025.
It highlights inter-sectoral collaboration and crisis preparedness in addressing mental health issues, suicide and suicidal behaviour as well as surveillance for early detection of cases that will allow for early monitoring and intervention.
It also consists of strategies that involve all segments including children and adolescents and settings like homes, schools, workplaces and the community.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our mental well-being. Lockdowns, isolation, being separated from friends and family, the anxiety and fear of living with the virus, loss of economic opportunities have all contributed to a deterioration of our collective and individual mental well-being.
“And this has hit everyone in our society, especially children who have had to stay away from school and their friends. But the worry that our younger population are growing up with poorer mental health predates the pandemic,” he said during the launch of UNICEF's global flagship report The State of the World's Children 2021 (SOWC), today.
Prior to the pandemic, Khairy mentioned that the National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2017 showed that one in five teenagers has depression, whereby there was also a significant increase of suicidal ideation among teenagers aged between 13 to 17 compared to findings in 2012.
He added that the 2019 survey reported that 424,000 children in Malaysia had mental health problems.
“Mental health awareness begins at home. Parents and caregivers play an important role to create a safe and supportive environment for their children. Families must know that they are not on their own.
“At the local level, mental health awareness and advocacy need to be translated into immediate action, empowering the community with psychosocial support and community activities.
“Community leaders can be trained to provide assistance and refer cases to the relevant agencies for professional support,” he explained.
Khairy also reiterated that the Ministry of Health supports efforts to repeal Section 309 of the Penal Code, which deems attempted suicide as a crime.
“Decriminalising suicide will reduce stigma and encourage those affected to come forward to seek help for their mental health issues. It is my hope that this movement to decriminalize suicide will happen very soon.”