Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 465 attempted suicide cases treated at the Ministry of Health have been recorded from January to June this year, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba today.

“The total is 210 cases fewer this year compared to 675 cases recorded for the same period last year,” he said when launching the crisis centre, “The Orchid Clubhouse” of the Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association (MIASA), in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 here today.

Dr Adham revealed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported there were more than 800,000 suicide deaths each year with an average of one suicide every 40 seconds.

He said globally, suicide incidents are among the 20 leading causes of death for all ages and is one of three leading causes of death among those aged between 15 and 44.

In this regard, he said the theme of this year’s suicide prevention day is ‘Let’s TALK Healthy Minds: Mental Health Owned by All, Prevent Suicide Together’, coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic which has a significant impact on mental health.

Thus, he said the ministry has set up a Psychosocial First Aid Hotline since March 25 in collaboration with Mercy Malaysia.

Besides that, other government agencies such as the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development have also created their respective support hotlines.

“On the overall, a total of 11,791 calls were received via government helplines between March 25 and August,” he added.

He said each caller has an average of three issues, among them, 50 per cent of issues require emotional support and counselling for stress, anxiety and despair.

This was due to factors such as job loss, interpersonal relationship problems, isolation, and reduced access to assistance during the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Meanwhile, Dr Adham said the ministry also supports the calls to decriminalise attempted suicide, and the Attorney-General’s Chambers is currently studying the matter.

“The government is also aware that attempted suicide cases are getting more worrying and should be addressed. The focus is on Sections 305, 306 and 309 of the Penal Code regarding suicide offences,” he said.

With this effort, Dr Adham said patients who have depression and have attempted suicide will be more open to come forward and receive treatment without facing any stigma.

The ministry also offers mental health screening and treatment services at 1,001 primary healthcare clinics nationwide, four mental institutions, 66 government hospitals, and 28 communities mental health centres (Mentari). – Bernama