The 21-month long Covid-19 pandemic has caused an alarming rise in suicides – with the police recording 638 suicides in the first seven months of 2021 alone, compared to 631 in 2020 and 609 in 2019. This means that from January to July this year, there has been an average of three suicides a day!
Attempted suicide is still a crime under Malaysian law and there is no better time to decriminalise it than now, especially with Covid-19 that has been causing Malaysians great anguish in many aspects of their daily lives.
This pandemic has clearly highlighted the fact that a suicide attempt is not an issue of crime. Rather, it is a health and social problem with people facing symptoms of increased depression and stress like insomnia, anxiety, irritability, and low moods that may affect their daily functioning.
With this in mind, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang has urged Prime Minister Ismail Sabri to announce that no one will be prosecuted for attempted suicide until the law is duly amended.
Further, he added that new Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and new de facto Law Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar should make this matter one of their priority agendas and play a leading role in realising it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Malaysia is one of 25 countries that still criminalises attempted suicide. In the ASEAN region, it is one of three countries that has maintained penal sanctions alongside Myanmar and Brunei.