Psychiatrist backs decriminalising attempted suicide



KUCHING: Decriminalising attempted suicide will encourage people with mental health issues to seek professional help, opines psychiatrist Dr Gan Chee Kuan.

He said this in response to a statement by former deputy prime minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail on Wednesday (Sept 29), calling the government to expedite the decriminalisation of attempted suicide.

Dr Wan Azizah said this in Parliament, adding that amending relevant laws would ensure that attempted suicide would be regarded as a mental health issue instead of a crime.

He said decriminalising attempted suicide would be a good move, saying: “I cannot help to emphasise again that attempted suicide is mainly a mental health issue. It is definitely not a criminal act.”

Dr Gan, who is a psychiatrist at Permai Specialist Clinic, said the move would eventually also reduce the rate of suicide in the population.

“It will encourage individuals with mental health issues to come forward to seek professional help.

“When their mental health is addressed and treated accordingly, the risk of suicide will be diminished,” he explained.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Pandan MP, said the spike in the number of suicide cases, which stemmed from mental health issues during the Covid-19 pandemic, was concerning.

She also noted that the number of suicide cases recorded in Malaysia between January and July this year exceeded the total number of cases recorded in 2020.

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