Should those who attempt suicide be helped, or further 'punished'?

  • 06 Aug 2020

Recently, a man was fined RM3,000 for attempting suicide at a flat in Jalan Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. 

The Kuala Lumpur magistrate's court on Tuesday ordered the Shahfirul Hakim Shahidan, 28, to pay the fine for his crime, or risk being jailed for three months. 

According to reports, Shahfirul was reportedly suffering from emotional stress due to family issues, when he tried to jump off the Pangsapuri Flat Sri Johor, before he was saved by firemen, last Saturday.

Shahfirul is not the first one to face the music for failing to take his own life. 

Back in June, an unemployed 42-year-old man was sentenced to a month's jail by the Kuala Lumpur magistrate's court for trying to use fragments of a broken window pane to stab himself. 

Both men may have ended up paying a lesser price for not achieving what they set out to do, unlike a former pilot at a local airline, who recently jumped to his death from his condominium unit in Puchong. The 36-year-old reportedly suffered from stress after being laid off from his job two months ago, police said. 

It may sound cruel to have someone who is already pushed to the brink of suicide, to be further fined and jailed, but it is provided under Section 309 of the Penal Code, which stipulates: "Whoever attempts to commit suicide, and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both."

There have been repeated calls for the government to decriminalise suicide attempts but there is yet to be progress, as the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) is still studying the law on the matter. 

Kampung Tunku assemblyperson Lim Yi Wei, in a statement yesterday, repeated the call, urging the government to impose a moratorium on prosecuting those who attempt suicide.

People who attempt suicide need help, and not jail or fine, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing Movement Control Order (MCO) had taken a toll on Malaysians' mental health, she pointed out. 

"Each failed suicide attempt should not be looked on as an inconvenience, but a life saved. Now that the survivors live, do we support them and help them get back on their feet, or do we further push them to the brink?" Free Malaysia Today reported her asking in a statement. 

Police records show that there were 78 suicides nationwide from March 18 (when the MCO began) until June 9. This is a spike from the 64 suicides reported in the same period last year.

Besides, a total 34 percent of 4,142 calls received by the Befrienders between March 18 and May 16, were also related to the COVID-19 outbreak, and out of the number, over a third were suicidal in nature, Singapore's Straits Times had recently reported. 

Given these circumstances and numbers, do you think those who attempt suicide should be helped to get back to their right set of mind, perhaps via counselling?

Or, should they be fined or jailed, because the law should prevail under any circumstances?

Please let us what you think in the comments below.

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