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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – #Suicide Survivors Should Be Treated With Compassion

THE Malaysian #MentalHealthAssociation calls for a total repeal or amendments to Section 309 of the Penal Code which punishes those who survive a #suicide attempt with up to a year in jail, a fine, or both, if convicted.

Last year, Parliament was informed that the Attorney-General’s Chambers was studying possible amendments to laws related to #suicide. Yet, a magistrate’s court has just fined an unemployed #man who had attempted to commit #suicide RM3,000 or three months in jail if he failed to pay the fine, “Court fines man RM3k for #suicide attempt”.

Two months ago, a 42-year-old man who attempted #suicide by stabbing himself with fragments from a broken glass window was sentenced to one month in prison.

Malaysia remains among the few countries in the world that continues to maintain archaic laws that view #suicide attempts as a criminal act. Singapore decriminalised #suicide as of Jan 1, 2020. We, however, are still dragging our feet over this issue despite concerns expressed by the Malaysia Law Reform Committee as well as leaders of #mentalhealth organisations and #mentalhealthexperts.

More than 90% of people attempting #suicide suffer from major #mentalillnesses like clinical #depression, bipolar disorder or psychosis and should therefore be considered as victims. A psychiatric examination prior to the court proceeding to convict a person under Section 309 would be the preferred course of action.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code allows the magistrate to order the charged person to be assessed for a period of one month at a designated psychiatric facility, pending a submission of a report by the psychiatrist before the trial proceeds.

The magistrate may then sentence the charged person to time already served in the psychiatric ward and order him/her to comply with the psychiatric follow-up as appropriate. There would be no need for a prison term or a fine.

Malaysia must move towards a more compassionate society by destigmatising #mentalillness and safeguarding the interests of persons with #mentalillness and their families. Better decision-making processes concerning #mentalhealthissues in general and an empathetic approach towards those afflicted will go a long way in creating a compassionate, inclusive and resilient society.

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