There was an average of four suicide cases every day for the first three months of the year, with 336 cases reported to police.
This is the shocking statistic released by health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, who said the number for the three months was more than half of what was reported throughout 2020.
Citing data from the police, Noor Hisham said there were 631 suicide cases in 2020, an increase from the 609 recorded in 2019.
He said those isolated from support networks and under extreme stress were at higher risk of facing mental health problems, such as depression.
Noor Hisham urged the public to be more aware of their family members and those in their surroundings to detect early symptoms of depression, which could lead to suicidal tendencies.
This included behavioural changes, expressing a sense of hopelessness or feeling as if their presence was a burden to their family, and talking about wanting to end their lives either verbally or in writing.
“If they display any of the symptoms listed, the individual is advised to seek professional medical advice immediately to avoid their condition from worsening,” said Noor Hisham.
He said the public could also effectively communicate with the depressed individual by taking the matter seriously, listening to their grievances as well as showing empathy and avoiding judgmental behaviour.
Noor Hisham advised Malaysians to make use of technology to keep in contact with those who were mentally affected, offer to help them with their daily tasks and encourage them to seek professional help.
He added that the media played a role in disseminating accurate information according to the health ministry’s guidelines for media reporting on suicide.
“The public is asked to respect the victim’s family by not recording any videos or distributing pictures on social media about the individual who committed suicide.
“Suicide can be prevented, but viral posts on social media could lead to ‘copycat suicides’ for those at risk.”
- Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service (MHPSS): 03-29359935 or 014-3223392
- Talian Kasih: 15999, or WhatsApp 019-2615999
- Jakim’s Family, Social and Community care centre: WhatsApp 0111-9598214
- Befrienders Kuala Lumpur: 03-76272929 – FMT