Helping people in despair gets timely help

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KUCHING: Decriminalising suicide is an important move as it has been proven that punishment is not the best solution to help people in despair, said psychiatrist Dr Bernard Ting.

The lecturer at the Department of Psychological Medicine, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) said punishing such acts might even stop people from getting timely help.

“Many nations have moved towards decriminalising suicide attempts,” he said when contacted on Friday (Oct 8).

He was commenting on Deputy Health Minister II Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang’s statement in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday that the move to decriminalise suicide has been set in motion, with the Cabinet to fine tune amendments to the Penal Code on the matter.

 “This could mark the first history-making step by the government to take mental health issues seriously as a public health concern and encourage people with emotional difficulties to seek professional help,” said Dr Ting.

At the same time, he hoped that the proposed amendment would not be misinterpreted as an encouragement for people to attempt suicide or self-harm to cope with their emotional issues.

Instead, it should be seen as promoting the importance of emotional wellbeing and help-seeking behaviour.

 “It is okay to be not okay sometimes and you don’t have to keep this to yourself as a secret. You have many supports and resources available in the community,” he said.

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