Criminalising Mental Disorder-Induced Attempted Suicide in Malaysia: Breaking the Silence
Every 40 years, a person commits suicide somewhere in the world. Suicide claims the lives of over 800,000 individuals each year, accounting for about 1.4 percent of all deaths globally. In this spectrum, mental disorders are among the strongest predictors of suicide attempts with depression, substance abuse, and psychosis being the most common risk factors. Regardless of suicides being an unprecedented epidemic in the society, Malaysia is one of the few which remains the archaic law in statutes, that criminalises suicide and punishes anyone who attempts or commits any act leading to the commission of such an offence with a sentence of one year in prison, a fine, or both. The present research thus aims at highlighting the challenges of prosecuting attempted suicides in Malaysia based on the attitude of the judiciary, thus addressing the weaknesses of Section 309 of the Penal Code of which the provision for criminalising suicide rests. Employing the doctrinal research methodology, systematic means of legal reasoning based on statutory materials, conventional legal theories, and related case law pertinent to the criminalising of attempted suicide in Malaysia are produced. In dealing with issues as intricate as suicides and mental disorder, the present research argues that the focus should be to develop a regulatory framework that facilitate access to appropriate care in a professional and sensitive manner instead of punishment.
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