Some Malaysians are supportive of the government's recent decision to decriminalise suicide attempts, following Deputy Health Minister Aaron Ago Dagang's announcement in Parliament on Oct. 7.
According to Aaron, the home minister and the attorney-general have agreed to end Section 309 of the Penal Code, Malay Mail reported.
He said that the decriminalisation of suicide has been in discussion "for a long time".
"Now it is with the Cabinet for amendments," he added.
Currently, those who attempt suicide and survive face prosecution. If convicted, they can be jailed for up to one year or fined, or both.
Health ministry supports the repeal
Talks about the decriminalisation of suicide in Malaysia has been going on for a while.
In conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day on Sep. 10, Malaysia's Director-General for Health Noor Hisham Abdullah said that decriminalising suicide is a step towards getting more people to seek early treatment, The Star reported.
He added that the health ministry "supports to amend or repeal Section 309 of the Penal Code."
Malaysians welcome the move
Soon after the news broke, some Malaysians were in support of the government's decision.
One law firm, D&P Law Group, took to their Facebook on Oct. 8 to share their support of the move.The group said:
"The idea of [the law] being a 'deterrent' to attempts of suicide is no longer true or relevant as the society [moves] towards a compassionate approach to individuals by creating a safe environment for those who may be facing difficulties or mental health issues that led to them making such decision."
Other Malaysians took to social media to express their support of decriminalising suicide.
One Twitter user @Z_Y_Loo wrote: "This is really a great step forward for a better Malaysia. Provide psychological support to those with mental health issues, not punishments that make the situation even worse. Laws are to protect us, not torture the people. Suicide is not a crime."
Another Twitter user @Hydrawave1 described the move to abolish the criminalisation of suicide as "a huge step for mental healthcare" in Malaysia as criminalising them is an "inhumane" thing to do.
A huge step for mental healthcare in Malaysia, especially for those who are struggling due to suicide attempts in the past. Criminalizing them is an inhumane thing to do and I am glad to see it is being abolished. https://t.co/U1RzaeoBzy— Hydrawave (💉2/2 AZ) (@Hydrawave1) October 7, 2021
638 suicide cases from January to July
From January to July 2021, Malaysia recorded a total of 638 cases of suicide, according to the country's health director-general Noor Hisham, Sinar Harian reported.
He added that this was a 143 per cent increase as compared to the same period last year, with only 262 cases.
Other than decriminalising suicide attempts, Aaron also said that the government will be introducing the "national strategic action on mental health 2020-2025" on Oct. 10, in conjunction with World Mental Health Day, according to Malay Mail.