Malaysia is looking to abolish an antiquated law that criminalizes suicide attempts.
The deputy health minister today acknowledged the Home Affairs Ministry and the Attorney-General Chambers’ agreement to abolish Section 309 of the Penal Code and would bring the matter to the cabinet. The government was also launching a plan to improve the overall mental health of Malaysians in the course of the next four years.
“I understand that the Home Ministry and AGC have agreed to abolish Section 309 related to suicide attempts, and now, the matter will be brought to the cabinet,” Deputy Health Minister II Aaron Ago Dagang said. The Kanowit Member of Parliament promised in Parliament today that the law will be amended so that those who have attempted suicide would not be convicted and sent to jail or fined.
Malaysia is one of 20 countries that treat suicide attempts as a crime, alongside Nigeria, Kenya, and Pakistan, according to a Reuters report this year.
Under Section 309, those found guilty of suicide attempts will be punished with imprisonment of up to one year, a fine, or both.
The national mental health plan will be introduced Sunday, in conjunction with World Mental Health Day, focusing on increasing access to mental health services, strengthening mental health programs, and conducting screenings to detect levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
This article, Malaysia looking to decriminalize suicide attempts, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.