PUTRAJAYA: Concerned that more people are resorting to ending their lives at the first sign of problems, police are considering enforcing the law on attempted suicide as a form of deterrence.
Deputy Inspector–General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said, while Section 309 of the Penal Code stated that anyone guilty of attempted suicide could face imprisonment of up to a year or fined or both, police had not been enforcing it.
This, he said, was because attempted suicide, as a crime, was unlike other
illicit acts and needed to be dealt with delicately.
He said police were still investigating two recent cases of attempted suicide in Terengganu, involving a woman with marital problems and a teenager who threatened to jump off a nine–storey hotel.
"It is not your normal crime. We act on it with wisdom and look at the act from many angles, including the root causes and what prompted them to do it as well as if they have mental disturbances.
"Dealing with people who attempt suicide requires the involvement of many parties, including specialists and psychiatrists.
"We are concerned with the increase in suicide attempts and if we have to start charging people to deter them from doing so, we will," Ismail told the New Straits Times yesterday.
He added that the police also worked closely with relevant agencies to promote rehabilitation of those who had attempted suicide.
Asked if the police had ever levelled charges against anyone for attempting suicide, Ismail said he could only recall one case many years ago, where the person was charged in court.
Federal Territory Religious Department (Jawi) director Datuk Che Mat Che Ali said, while Jawi was not empowered to take action against those who attempt suicide, the organisation offered counselling to Muslims who felt there was no way out for them but to end their lives.
This year alone, he said, Jawi had intervened in at least five cases where individuals, bogg–ed down by family and financial problems, had contemplated suicide.
"It is a huge sin, where Islam is concerned, for one to take his own life. We try in the best way we can to rehabilitate these individuals so that they do not repeat this sin.
"My door is open to Muslims at all times if they need to talk out their problems with me."
Under the law, it is not a crime if a person is caught at the preparatory stage of suicide (for example, if someone is caught after writing a suicide note or in the midst of tying a noose to hang himself).
However, if he is already hanging on a noose but the rope snaps and he is caught alive, it is considered an offence under Section 309.
Section 306 of the Penal Code states that abetting a suicide carries a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine.
According to the Malaysian Psychiatric Association, suicide rates have increased by 60 per cent in the past 45 years, with an estimated seven people attempting suicide daily.
The National Suicide Registry has recorded 31 suicide attempts by Malaysians and two non–Malaysians so far this year.
Records also show that in 2000, 53 children under the age of 11 and 1,837 people above the age of 12 attempted suicide.
The suicide rate among youths in Malaysia is estimated to be three in every 100,000.
The Health Ministry in its "Guidelines in the Management of Psychiatric Disorders" said between 10 and 15 per cent of individuals who had attempted suicide eventually succeeded in killing themselves. Males were twice as likely to try again as females.
The risk was particularly high in the first year after a failed attempt.
It also recorded that suicide rates increased with age. The highest rates were among the elderly. Among men aged 65 and above, the suicide rate was 40 per 100,000, two to four times higher than the rate for women.
Among women, the findings revealed that most of the attempted suicides were in the 15 to 24 age group (283 per 100,000) and among men most of them were in the 25 to 34 age group (199 per 100,000).
According to a 2006 estimate, 13 in 100,000 Malaysians killed themselves as opposed to eight in the 1980s.
The suicide rate in the Indian community was the highest with 30 to 35 in every 100,000 attempting suicide, compared with 15 Chinese and six Malays.
However, the rates could be even higher as some cases may not have been reported, due to either the stigma attached to suicide or because the deceased's life insurance would normally contain a clause denying payments on the ground of self–inflicted death.
SUICIDE ATTEMPTS THIS YEAR
– Feb 18: A cancer victim threatens to stab himself at the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department but department head Datuk Michael Chong and a security guard manage to coax the 64–year–old into surrendering his knife. – Feb 19: A woman, in her 20s, stabs herself in the abdomen several times in a toilet cubicle at a shopping complex in Bukit Bintang. Workers force open the door and she is sent to hospital. – April 9: A 24–year–old man leaps from a restaurant at Genting Highlands but is saved by the Genting Skyway safety net. He spends six hours on the ledge of the net before being helped down. – July 14: A woman leaps from the 12th floor of an apartment building in Kuala Lumpur but her fall is broken by a glass walkway. She suffers a broken hip and legs. – Oct 7: A 36–year–old businessman attempts suicide by drinking weedkiller after he allegedly strangled his ex–girlfriend who had told him she was engaged to another man.
Man falls to death
JOHOR BARU: A man in his 40s fell to his death from a five–storey car park at Plaza Angsana yesterday.
Johor Baru North police chief Assistant Commissioner Ruslan
Hassan said initial investigations revealed there was no foul play in the 3.30pm
He said the man's body was sent to the Sultanah Aminah Hospital for a post–mortem.
A maintenance worker, who only wanted to be identified as Don, said he heard a loud thump.
Thinking it was the irresponsible act of somebody dumping rubbish, he went to look for the culprit, only to find the body of a man sprawled near the loading bay of the shopping centre.
A shopper, who declined to be identified and who was visibly in a state of shock, said she saw the victim making his way to the top floor of the parking bay.