SEREMBAN: The government has been urged to abolish Section 309 of the Penal Code which states that it is an offence to commit suicide.

In making the call, Malaysian Psychiatric Association deputy president Associate Prof Dr Muhamad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari said suicide attempts should not be considered as a criminal offence as the affected persons were facing mental health issues.

“It (the suicide attempt) is usually caused by depression. According to Section 309 of the Penal Code, whoever attempts to commit suicide shall be punished with a maximum imprisonment of one year or with fine or both.

“Such punishment will actually add more stress to individuals who have attempted to commit suicide. Therefore, it will not solve the problem,” he told reporters after the closing ceremony of the state-level World Suicide Prevention Day 2019 programme here today.

The ceremony was officiated by Rahang assemblywoman Mary Josephine Pritam Singh.

Dr Muhamad Muhsin said the affected persons must be given necessary treatment and undergo a psychiatric rehabilitation programme.

Meanwhile, Mary Josephine in her speech said according to a report by the International Association for Suicide Prevention, the average number of deaths by suicide was 800,000 every year or one death every 40 seconds.

“Suicide accounts for 1. 4 per cent of all deaths worldwide.

“The desire for suicide is one of the symptoms of mental stress. According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2015, every three in 10 adults aged 16 years and above in Malaysia have mental health issues,” she said. – Bernama