Health Minister Dr Adham Baba says 465 cases of attempted suicide treated at the ministry were recorded from January to June this year, a decline of 210 from the 675 cases recorded in the same period last year.
Speaking at an event in Kuala Lumpur today, he said the World Health Organization reported that more than 800,000 suicides take place each year with an average of one death every 40 seconds.
Globally, he said, suicide is one of the 20 leading causes of death for all ages and one of three leading causes of death among those aged 15 to 44.
He said the ministry had set up a psychological first aid hotline in collaboration with Mercy Malaysia, with other support hotlines created by government agencies such as the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia and the women, family and community development ministry.
“Overall, a total of 11,791 calls was received via government helplines between March 25 and August,” he added.
He said each caller has an average of three issues, 50% of which require emotional support and counselling for stress, anxiety and despair due to factors such as job loss, relationship problems, isolation and reduced access to assistance during the movement control order period.
He said the ministry also supports calls to decriminalise attempted suicide, and that the matter is currently under study by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
“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.
He voiced hope that the effort would help those with depression and who have attempted suicide be more open to coming forward and receiving treatment.
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 community mental health centres.