Govt studying strategies to decriminalise suicide attempts — Liew

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 15): The Government through the Attorney-General's Chambers is studying possible amendments to laws related to suicide to address the increasing number of such attempts nationwide.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the existing laws including section 309 of the Penal Code which is currently being applied by the authorities, requires a detailed study and consultation with several stakeholders.

“Among the stakeholders involved include, the Health Ministry; Women, Family and Community Development Ministry; Education Ministry; Communications and Multimedia Ministry; Youth and Sports Ministry; Royal Malaysia Police; the Fire and Rescue Department; Department of Islamic Development Malaysia; Befrienders Kuala Lumpur; and the Malaysian Psychiatric Association.

“The study is not only focused on Sections 309 of the Penal Code, Act 574 for attempted suicide but also includes Sections 305 and 306 for abetting suicide attempts,” he said during the ministers' question time in the Dewan Rakyat today.

He said this in response to a question from Dr Kevin Yii Lee Wuen (PH-Bandar Kuching) who wanted to know the government's status in trying to amend Section 309 of the Penal Code to decriminalise suicide attempts.  

The government, Liew added, was also studying and comparing laws for similar offences committed in other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Pakistan, and India, to examine the approach taken by these countries.

Responding to a supplementary question by Yii about the length of time to repeal these sections so that those who attempt suicide are not criminalised, Liew said the government had prepared a study paper to be distributed to the relevant stakeholders in order to receive feedback to draft a comprehensive national strategy to address the problem.

“This Act has existed since before independence, hence the process of decriminalisation will take some time.

“I hope that in the near future we will have laws that will not criminalise suicide attempts but instead seek a holistic solution to help those involved in such attempts,” he added. — Bernama